Send to:

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Respir Med. 2000 Aug;94(8):791-9.

Interaction of Bordetella pertussis with human respiratory mucosa in vitro.

Author information

  • 1Host Defence Unit, Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine, National Heart and Lung Institute, London, UK.


The human respiratory tract pathogen Bordetella pertussis is the major cause of whooping cough in infants and young children, and also causes chronic cough in adults. B. pertussis infection damages ciliated epithelium in the respiratory tract. However, the interaction of the bacterium with the respiratory mucosa is poorly understood, and previous studies have either utilized animal tissue which may not be appropriate, or isolated cell systems which lack the complexity of the respiratory mucosa. We have studied the interaction of B. pertussis strain BP536 with human nasal turbinate tissue in an air-interface organ culture over 5 days. We have also compared infection by BP536 with two other strains, Tohama I and CN2992, to determine whether the interactions observed with BP536 are consistent, and, in both nasal turbinate and adenoid organ cultures at 24 h, to determine whether there were differences between tissue from different parts of the respiratory tract. BP536 adhered to cilia, most commonly at their base, and disorganized their spatial arrangement, they also adhered to damaged tissue and mucus, but very rarely to unciliated cells. Within the first 24 h there was a five-fold increase in bacterial density on ciliated cells, and the total number of adherent bacteria increased up to 96 h. Infection caused increased mucus at 24h and an increase in damaged epithelium from 72 h which involved both ciliated and unciliated cells. The number of residual ciliated cells did not decrease after 72 h. The three different strains of B. pertussis exhibited similar interactions with the mucosa, and there was no tissue specificity for adenoid or turbinate tissue. We conclude that B. pertussis adhered to multiple sites on the mucosa and caused hypersecretion and epithelial damage which are the pathological changes described in vivo.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
Free full text
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for Elsevier Science
    Loading ...
    Write to the Help Desk