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Eur J Clin Microbiol Infect Dis. 2014 Oct;33(10):1733-9. doi: 10.1007/s10096-014-2130-y. Epub 2014 May 9.

Antibody development to Fusobacterium necrophorum in patients with peritonsillar abscess.

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Department of Otorhinolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery, Aarhus University Hospital, NBG, Building 10, Noerrebrogade 44, 8000, Aarhus C, Denmark,


A polymicrobial mixture of aerobic and anaerobic bacteria is commonly recovered from peritonsillar abscess (PTA) aspirates. Previous studies have suggested a role for Fusobacterium necrophorum (FN) in the development of PTA. The purpose of the current study was to explore whether anti-FN antibodies were produced in patients with PTA. We developed a novel immunofluorescence-based method to measure anti-FN antibody levels in acute and convalescent sera from 15 patients with PTA and 47 patients with chronic tonsillar conditions (controls) undergoing acute or elective tonsillectomy, respectively. Bacterial cultures were performed on tonsillar cores and surfaces, pus aspirates, and blood. An increase in anti-FN antibody levels (of at least doubling of the previous level) was observed in 8 of 11 (73 %) PTA patients with FN-positive pus aspirate cultures (FN-positive patients). In contrast, the four FN-negative PTA patients did not have an increase in anti-FN antibody levels (p = 0.026). The change in anti-FN antibody levels in FN-positive PTA patients was also significantly greater than that for FN-positive electively tonsillectomized patients (p = 0.0014) and all electively tonsillectomized patients (p < 0.001). Our results validate FN as a significant and prevalent pathogen in PTA. This finding has implications for the diagnostic work-up of PTA and may also have implications for the treatment of acute tonsillitis.

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