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Am Rev Respir Dis. 1986 Nov;134(5):1040-4.

Adherence of type I Streptococcus pneumoniae to tracheal epithelium of mice infected with influenza A/PR8 virus.


Bacterial adherence to virus-infected respiratory tract cells may be one of the several mechanisms whereby virus predisposes to bacterial pneumonia. To evaluate the effect of influenza virus infection on pneumococcus adhesion, 39 mice were infected with PR8/A influenza virus. The adherence of radiolabeled pneumococcus to mice tracheal cells was determined 2, 4, and 6 days after viral inoculation. The pneumococcal adhesion to infected tracheas was significantly enhanced on Day 6 (p less than 0.001). Scanning and transmission electron microscopy revealed that by the fourth and sixth days after virus inoculation, the ciliated and the secretory cells of the tracheal epithelium had desquamated and the mucosa were coated with a continuous layer of basal cells. In a few cases, a desquamation of the basal layer was observed and the exposed basement membrane appeared as a pole of attraction for bacteria. Pneumococci were never seen attached to control tracheas. In contrast, they were observed adhered to the microvilli of the basal cells and, to a greater extent, to the exposed basement membrane.

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