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Cell Tissue Res. 2010 Oct;342(1):67-73. doi: 10.1007/s00441-010-1036-y. Epub 2010 Sep 14.

Bacterial distribution in lung parenchyma early after pulmonary infection with Pseudomonas aeruginosa.

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Institute of Functional and Applied Anatomy, Hannover Medical School, Carl-Neuberg-Straße 1, 30625 Hannover, Germany.


Nosocomial infections often cause lethal pneumogenic sepsis. Information on early bacteria-host interaction in the lung is limited. In the present study, mice were sacrificed 60 min and 4 h after Pseudomonas aeruginosa (PA) infection to investigate lung morphology by using electron microscopy and light microscopy. After 1 h, bacteria were found in the alveoli partly in contact with surfactant. Alveolar macrophages were seen with up to 10 intracellular bacteria close to protrusions of alveolar epithelial type I cells and the gas/blood barrier. A rare but surprising finding was bacteria and even replicating bacteria in alveolar epithelial type II cells (AEII). No bacteria were seen in capillaries. Neither engulfment of bacteria by neutrophils nor structural damage of the pulmonary barrier was visible. After 4 h, many neutrophils were found within the capillaries, but also in the alveolar space. Thus, we hypothesize that, in early stages of infection, the uptake of PA even by single AEII can influence the course of the disease.

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