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J Med Microbiol. 2007 Jan;56(Pt 1):4-8.

Enteroaggregative Escherichia coli: epidemiology, virulence and detection.

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Karolinska Institute, Department of Laboratory Medicine, Division of Clinical Bacteriology, Karolinska University Hospital, Huddinge, 14186 Stockholm, Sweden.


Enteroaggregative Escherichia coli (EAEC) is a subgroup of diarrhoeagenic E. coli (DEC) that during the past decade has received increasing attention as a cause of watery diarrhoea, which is often persistent. EAEC have been isolated from children and adults worldwide. As well as sporadic cases, outbreaks of EAEC-caused diarrhoea have been described. The definition of EAEC is the ability of the micro-organism to adhere to epithelial cells such as HEp-2 in a very characteristic 'stacked-brick' pattern. Although many studies searching for specific virulence factor(s) unique for this category of DEC have been published it is still unknown why the EAEC cause persistent diarrhoea. In addition, the aggregative property of EAEC causes a lot of problems in serotyping due to the cells auto-agglutinating. The gold standard for identification of EAEC includes isolation of the agent and an adherence assay using tissue culture, viz. HEp-2 cells. This assay is in most cases reliable; however, emergence of 'atypical' EAEC has been described in several publications. In addition, the HEp-2 assay is time consuming, demands a tissue culture lab and trained staff. Several molecular biological assays have been described, however, none show 100 % specificity.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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