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Infect Immun. 1992 Oct;60(10):4051-8.

Adhesion to and invasion of cultured human cells by Bartonella bacilliformis.

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  • 1Department of Microbiology, Meharry Medical College, Nashville, Tennessee 37208.


Bartonella bacilliformis was tested for its ability to adhere to and invade tissue culture cell monolayers. The parasite was able to efficiently bind and penetrate human dermal fibroblasts, human laryngeal epithelium, and human umbilical vein endothelial cells. Exposure of the organism to immune serum prepared against a crude Bartonella extract containing cell wall and membranous material resulted in decreased ability of the parasite to invade host cells. There was also an overall reduction in the invasiveness of bartonellae and total host cell association when human laryngeal epithelial cells and human umbilical vein endothelial cells were preexposed to cytochalasin D, indicating an active involvement of host cells in the uptake of bartonellae. Transmission electron microscopy revealed the presence of bartonellae inside and outside intracellular vacuoles. These data suggest that a surface-associated factor is involved in the invasion process and that internalization of the parasite by host cells involves a microfilament-dependent process similar to phagocytosis.

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