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Nat Rev Microbiol. 2010 Feb;8(2):93-104. doi: 10.1038/nrmicro2269. Epub 2009 Dec 30.

Breaking the wall: targeting of the endothelium by pathogenic bacteria.

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INSERM, U895, Toxines Microbiennes dans la Relation Hôte Pathogènes, Centre Méditerranéen de Médecine Moléculaire, C3M, Nice, 06204, Cedex 3, France.


The endothelium lining blood and lymphatic vessels is a key barrier separating body fluids from host tissues and is a major target of pathogenic bacteria. Endothelial cells are actively involved in host responses to infectious agents, producing inflammatory cytokines, controlling coagulation cascades and regulating leukocyte trafficking. In this Review, a range of bacteria and bacterial toxins are used to illustrate how pathogens establish intimate interactions with endothelial cells, triggering inflammatory responses and coagulation processes and modifying endothelial cell plasma membranes and junctions to adhere to their surfaces and then invade, cross and even disrupt the endothelial barrier.

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