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Exp Cell Res. 1995 Dec;221(2):357-62.

Attachment of Pneumocystis carinii to primary cultures of rat alveolar epithelial cells.

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Department of Internal Medicine, Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis 46202, USA.


Pneumocystis carinii (PC) is an exclusively extracellular pathogen which causes pneumonia in immunocompromised individuals. Histologic studies have demonstrated that PC organisms attach preferentially to type I alveolar epithelial cells and rarely bind to type II cells. Previous reports have demonstrated that cultured type II cells develop a type I cell-like phenotype and express type I cell surface antigens. The current study examines the attachment of PC organisms to isolated rat type II alveolar epithelial cells as a function of time in culture. PC attachment to isolated type II cells increased as the type II cells differentiated in culture from 2.3 +/- 1.2% on Day 2 to 18.4 +/- 2.7% by Day 8. Previous studies have indicated a role for fibronectin (Fn) and Fn receptors as mediators of PC attachment. Addition of anti-Fn antibodies decreased attachment of PC to Day 8 type II cells from 19.4 +/- 2.5% to 9.4 +/- 1.9% (P < 0.01). Addition of antibodies to the alpha v and alpha 5 integrin subunits resulted in significant decreases in PC attachment to Day 8 type II cells. Examination of expression of alpha v and alpha 5 integrins on Day 2 and Day 8 type II cells demonstrated increased expression of both alpha v and alpha 5 integrin subunits on Day 8 type II cells. Overall these data indicate that attachment of PC to isolated rat type II cells increases as the cells differentiate into a type I cell-like phenotype in vitro and correlates with increased expression of Fn-binding integrins on the cell surface of the cultured type II cells.

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