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Curr Opin Crit Care. 2010 Feb;16(1):8-12. doi: 10.1097/MCC.0b013e3283354710.

Mechanisms of bacterial virulence in pulmonary infections.

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1
Department of Pediatrics, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts 02114, USA.

Abstract

PURPOSE OF REVIEW:

To consider the relevance to severe human lung infections of recently discovered virulence mechanisms of Staphylococcus aureus and Francisella tularensis.

RECENT FINDINGS:

S. aureus has long been considered an opportunistic pathogen. However, due to the emergence of community-acquired methicillin-resistant S. aureus (CA-MRSA) strains that can readily infect and kill normal hosts, S. aureus must now be considered a potentially virulent pathogen. The evolution of S. aureus from an organism associated with asymptomatic nasopharyngeal colonization to one associated with community-acquired lethal infections may reflect horizontal acquisition of bacterial genes that enable efficient spread, aggressive host invasion, and effective immune evasion. Alleviating the burden of staphylococcal disease will require better understanding of host susceptibility and of staphylococcal virulence and antibiotic resistance. In contrast to the rapidly evolving staphylococcal virulence strategy, recent genomic analysis of F. tularensis has revealed a small set of bacterial genes associated with the marked virulence of its North American subspecies. This suggests that a relatively stable strategy of immune evasion underlies this pathogen's ability to establish serious life-threatening lung infections from a very small inoculum.

SUMMARY:

Understanding bacterial pathogenesis will require additional research into both host susceptibility factors and bacterial virulence mechanisms, including horizontal gene transfer. Refinements in the molecular detection of bacteria in the clinical setting, as well as whole genome analysis of both pathogens and patients, are expected to aid in the understanding of bacterial-induced lung injury.

PMID:
19956071
PMCID:
PMC2845290
DOI:
10.1097/MCC.0b013e3283354710
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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