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Infect Immun. 1981 Dec;34(3):1025-35.

Microscopic characterization of ocular damage produced by Pseudomonas aeruginosa toxin A.


The ocular damage in young adult mice produced by purified Pseudomonas aeruginosa exotoxin A was microscopically characterized at 1 and 5 h and at 1, 3, 5, 7, 10, 14, and 21 days after toxin A challenge, using light, transmission, and scanning electron microscopic techniques. Similarly to previously described infection with viable organisms, toxin A killed both epithelial and endothelial cells and induced stromal cell swelling within 5 to 24 h after application onto the nonpenetrating wounded corneal surface. Other toxin-induced damage similar to the damage produced by infection with the viable bacteria was production of electron-dense particles within the corneal stroma, dispersal of undamaged collagen fibrils, and apparent loss of stromal proteoglycan ground substance. Toxin A damage differed from infection with the viable bacteria in essentially two ways. First, more purulent exudate and more polymorphonuclear neutrophilic leukocyte (PMN) infiltration of the corneal stroma were produced by infection with the viable organisms than by the toxin. Additionally, PMN did not appear within the toxin-treated corneas until 3 days after treatment, whereas in corneas infected with the viable organisms, PMN were numerous by 18 h. Secondly, toxin A produced cataract of the ocular lens, whereas infection with the viable organisms did not.

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