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J Med Microbiol. 1988 Nov;27(3):207-13.

The role of extracellular slime in opsonophagocytosis of Staphylococcus epidermidis.

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Department of Bacteriology, Royal Hallamshire Hospital, Sheffield.


Infections caused by coagulase-negative staphylococci (CNS) are a major problem in immunocompromised patients. It has been claimed that extracellular slime production by CNS predicts pathogenicity and inhibits host defences. Luminol-enhanced neutrophil chemiluminescence (CL) and bacterial killing assays were used to assess the effect of slime production on opsonophagocytosis and killing by polymorphonuclear leucocytes in vitro. There was wide variation in CL induction amongst the 43 strains of Staphylococcus epidermidis examined. The presence of slime had no influence either on the requirement or on the efficiency of opsonisation. Slime-producing and non-slime-producing strains showed a stepwise increase in induced CL up to a serum concentration of 10%, and were dependent on complement for efficient phagocytosis. The bacterial killing assays confirmed the CL results. Our data suggest that extracellular staphylococcal slime has no specific anti-opsonic property in vitro. Opsonophagocytosis may still be hampered in vivo by the physical presence of slime.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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