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Eur J Clin Microbiol Infect Dis. 2000 Oct;19(10):759-64.

Genetic diversity among strains of Moraxella catarrhalis cultured from the nasopharynx of young and healthy Brazilian, Angolan and Dutch children.

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Department of Paediatrics, St Lucas Andreas Hospital, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.


The present study describes the carriage patterns and genetic variability of Moraxella catarrhalis strains isolated from children living in different countries. Moraxella catarrhalis is genetically heterogeneous, but little is known about its geographic distribution and phenotypic and genetic diversity in warm-climate countries. A collection of 99 isolates from 30 Brazilian, 19 Angolan and 50 Dutch healthy children, all less than 5 years of age, was investigated for phenotypic and genotypic relatedness. The isolates from the three countries were similar where biochemical reactivity was concerned: 89 strains were beta-lactamase-producing and 87 were complement-resistant as determined by phenotype. There was no geographical difference in the prevalence of beta-lactamase-producing isolates, but the carriage rate of complement-resistant strains was significantly higher in Dutch than in Angolan children (P=0.004). Complement resistance of 66 randomly selected strains was genetically confirmed in a Southern hybridization assay by a novel DNA probe that is specific for complement-resistant strains and that demonstrated a sensitivity of 97% and a specificity of 100%. PCR amplification based on the probe sequence had a sensitivity of 98% and a specificity of 57% when compared to the outcome of a conventional culture spot test. PCR restriction fragment length polymorphism analysis of the MU 46 locus and pulsed-field gel electrophoresis of SpeI DNA macrorestriction fragments revealed genetic heterogeneity of strains from within and between the three countries, and no geographical clustering could be established. In conclusion, similar phenotypic characteristics but genotypic heterogeneity was found among Moraxella catarrhalis strains colonizing children in three different continents.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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