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J Infect Dis. 1992 Jun;165(6):1138-41.

Interactions between live Bartonella bacilliformis and endothelial cells.

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Pathology Department, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee.


Bartonella bacilliformis, a gram-negative, flagellated, motile bacterium, is the etiologic agent of verruca peruana. It is found within the verruca, where it can form large cytoplasmic (Rocha-Lima) inclusions in endothelial cells. Previously, an activity has been described in homogenates of B. bacilliformis that in vitro increases the proliferation of endothelial cells and their production of tissue-type plasminogen activator (t-PA) and in vivo is angiogenic. The aim of the present study was to determine if live B. bacilliformis similarly stimulated endothelial cells and produced the Rocha-Lima inclusion. By measuring proliferation of cells and the production of t-PA in vitro, it was found that the live bacteria increased both parameters in a fashion similar to the homogenates of B. bacilliformis. Interaction between the bacteria and endothelial cells appeared to be necessary for proliferation. On electron microscopy, bacteria penetrated the endothelial cell within 1 h, forming a small membrane-bound inclusion. By 12 h, a large membrane-bound inclusion, similar to the Rocha-Lima inclusion, containing numerous bacteria was present. These data provide further evidence that B. bacilliformis has an angiogenic activity and that the bacteria are at least in part responsible for the vascular proliferation of the verruca.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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