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J Infect Dis. 1991 Mar;163(3):549-58.

Interaction of nontypable Haemophilus influenzae with human respiratory mucosa in vitro.

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Host Defence Unit, National Heart and Lung Institute, London, UK.


One laboratory strain (SH9) (n = 12) and five clinical isolates of unencapsulated Haemophilus influenzae replicated from 10(4) to 10(8) cfu/ml over 24 h in an organ culture of human respiratory mucosa in which only the intact mucosal surface is exposed. By transmission electron microscopy (TEM), bacteria were not seen in association with normal respiratory epithelium, even after incubation for 24 h. Histology and TEM morphometry demonstrated patchy and occasionally confluent damage to epithelia at this time, with bacteria associated only with cells that were structurally damaged. Scanning electron microscopy revealed an increased quantity of mucus in infected preparations; H. influenzae were associated with mucus by 14 h of incubation and with damaged epithelial cells by 24 h. Fimbriation of H. influenzae increased buccal cell adherence but did not facilitate association with normal respiratory epithelium and failed to increase epithelial damage or association with damaged cells. Epithelial damage may be prerequisite for association of H. influenzae with respiratory epithelium in vitro.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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