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Can J Microbiol. 1993 Jul;39(7):718-22.

Opsonin-independent adherence and intracellular development of Legionella pneumophila within U-937 cells.

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Department of Microbiology, Spaulding Life Science Center, University of New Hampshire, Durham 03824-3544.


Legionella pneumophila adhered to and multiplied intracellularly in the human histiocytic lymphoma U-937 cell line. The infectious process was evaluated by viable bacterial cell colony counts and documented by transmission and scanning electron microscopy. In the absence of opsonins, wash-resistant bacterial adherence to host cells occurred within 1 h and attachment of 1 or 2 organisms per U-937 host cell involved close surface interactions at the prokaryotic and eukaryotic membranes. Intracellular multiplication of bacteria was maximal by 24 h after inoculation of cell monolayers. Release of L. pneumophila from these cells appeared as a lytic process that resulted in an increase in the numbers of microorganisms in the extracellular fluids and a concomitant decline in the number of intracellular bacteria. The course of cellular infection was completed by 72 h. The cellular and ultrastructural events of L. pneumophila adherence and uptake by U-937 cells in the absence of antibody or complement have been defined. In addition, this work further establishes the U-937 cell as a suitable model for investigating Legionella--host cell interactions.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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