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Clin Microbiol Rev. 1989 Apr;2 Suppl:S104-11.

Gonococcal and meningococcal pathogenesis as defined by human cell, cell culture, and organ culture assays.

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Department of Medicine, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, Georgia.


Human cells, cell cultures, and organ cultures have been extremely useful for studying the events that occur when gonococci and meningococci encounter human mucosal surfaces. The specificity and selectivity of these events for human cells are striking and correlate with the adaptation of these pathogens for survival on human mucous membranes. To colonize these sites, meningococci and gonococci have developed mechanisms to damage local host defenses such as the mucociliary blanket, to attach to epithelial cells, and to invade these cells. Attachment to epithelial cells mediated by pili, and to some types of cells mediated by PIIs, serves to anchor the organism close to sources of nutrition and allows multiplication. Intracellular invasion, possibly initiated by the major porin protein, may provide additional nutritional support and protection from host defenses. Mucosal invasion may also result in access of gonococci and meningococci to the bloodstream, leading to dissemination.

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