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J Infect Dis. 1995 Jan;171(1):113-21.

The effect of variations in the expression of pili on the interaction of Neisseria meningitidis with human nasopharyngeal epithelium.

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Department of Thoracic Medicine, Royal Brompton National Heart and Lung Institute, London, United Kingdom.


Bacterial adherence is essential to colonization of the nasopharynx by Neisseria meningitidis, and pili may facilitate adherence. Scanning electron microscopy and immunogold labeling were used to study the interaction of 2 piliated and 1 nonpiliated variant of N. meningitidis with nasopharyngeal mucosa in an adenoid organ culture system with an air-mucosal interface. Meningococcal infection caused epithelial damage, loss of ciliated epithelium, and ciliary disorganization, which progressed with time and were greater with the piliated strains. Pili increased adherence of meningococci to the mucosa, and there was tropism of piliated strains for nonciliated cells containing microvilli, damaged epithelium, and sites of cell separation. Bacterial adherence was associated with a change in the appearance of the microvilli.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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