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Antonie Van Leeuwenhoek. 1987;53(6):575-84.

Cytopathic effects of the pathogenic Neisseria. Studies using human fallopian tube organ cultures and human nasopharyngeal organ cultures.

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VA Medical Center, Atlanta, GA.


Infection of mucosal surfaces by N. gonorrhoeae and N. meningitidis may result in inflammation indicating potential injury to host cells. We used human fallopian tube organ cultures (FTOC) and human nasopharyngeal organ cultures (NPOC) to study the mechanisms by which gonococci and meningococci damage human mucosal surfaces. Early in the course of FTOC infected with gonococci and NPOC infected with meningococci, damage was most apparent to ciliary activity. Loss of ciliary activity was accompanied by sloughing of ciliated cells. The damage to ciliated cells was not associated with attachment of gonococci or meningococci to these cells or the presence of organisms within ciliated cells. Infection with the commensal N. subflava did not result in significant damage to human FTOC or NPOC ciliary activity. LPS appears to be a major toxin of gonococci for human FTOC ciliated cells. Gonococcal peptidoglycan fragments also damage FTOC ciliary activity. Both piliated (P+) and nonpiliated (P-) gonococci and meningococci damage FTOC and NPOC ciliary activity, but P+ organisms damage ciliary activity more rapidly than P- organisms. Damage to FTOC ciliated cells was produced by less than 10 micrograms/ml of purified gonococcal and meningococcal LPS. By 1-2h after exposure to LPS, vesicles containing LPS were distributed throughout the cytoplasm of ciliated cells. Polymyxin B neutralized LPS-induced damage, suggesting that the lipid A portion of LPS was the toxic moiety. In contrast, purified gonococcal and meningococcal LPS at 100 micrograms/ml did not damage human NPOC or FTOC from rabbits, pigs and cows. These studies indicate that N. gonorrhoeae and possibly N. meningitidis damage ciliated epithelial cells indirectly by release of toxins from the organisms. The differences in susceptibility of FTOC and NPOC to LPS may suggest changes in density of receptors for LPS and may help explain variation in severity of gonococcal and meningococcal interactions at different human mucosal surfaces.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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