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J Infect Dis. 1992 Feb;165(2):306-14.

The effect of type-specific polysaccharide capsule on the clearance of group B streptococci from the lungs of infant and adult rats.

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Medical Research Service, Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Seattle, WA.


To study the importance of the type-specific polysaccharide capsule of group B streptococci (GBS) in the pathogenesis of lung infections, bacterial clearance rates and lung cellular responses to encapsulated and unencapsulated variants of types III and Ia GBS strains were investigated in rats. Bacteria were instilled by direct intratracheal inoculation to simulate aspiration during parturition. Neonates failed to eliminate encapsulated or unencapsulated GBS strains within 6 h of inoculation, whereas adults cleared greater than 90% of each strain within 6 h. Neutrophils accumulated rapidly in the lungs of neonates and adults in response to all GBS strains. Immediately after inoculation, neonatal alveolar macrophages contained fewer encapsulated GBS than did adult alveolar macrophages and fewer encapsulated than unencapsulated GBS, suggesting that the capsule impairs the initial phagocytosis of GBS in the lungs of neonates. Animal age was a more important determinant of bacterial elimination from the lung than the type-specific GBS capsule. However, both age and the bacterial capsule were important determinants of systemic dissemination.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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