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Infect Immun. 1997 Feb;65(2):739-49.

In situ characterization of inflammatory responses in the rectal mucosae of patients with shigellosis.

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Division of Clinical Bacteriology, Karolinska Institute, Huddinge University Hospital, Sweden.


Shigella species cause bacillary dysentery in humans by invading epithelial cells of the colonic mucosa leading to colonic epithelial cell destruction and inflammation. For further analysis of local gut inflammation, morphological changes and the potential involvement of mediators in regulatory mechanisms of cell activation and cell proliferation were studied immunohistochemically in rectal mucosal biopsies taken from patients during the acute phase of shigellosis and at convalescence. Rectal biopsies from 25 Shigella dysenteriae-1 and 10 Shigella flexneri-infected patients and from 40 controls were studied. The frequencies of proliferative cells (Ki67-positive cells), p53-immunostaining cells, and cells coexpressing Ki67 with CD3 or with p53 were analyzed. Immunostaining for the inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) and the endothelial NOS was assessed. In addition, the frequencies of apoptotic cells and CD68+ cells that engulf apoptotic cells were assessed. By morphological grading, 20% of the patients had advanced inflammation (grade 3) in the acute phase; mild inflammation (grade 1) was seen in 37% of the patients at convalescence as well as in 10% of the controls. The findings in the present study suggest that in the acute phase of shigellosis inflammation is characterized by increased cell turnover in the lamina propria (LP) and the epithelium, increased iNOS expression in the surface epithelium, and apoptosis, which seems to be associated with LP macrophages. The findings also suggest that neither p53 nor iNOS are important factors for the induction of apoptosis in shigellosis. Expression of p53 may be related to early cell activation in crypt epithelium. Moreover, there is an indication of an active, low-level inflammatory process at convalescence. The results thus indicate that Shigella-induced inflammation is associated with a complex series of cellular reactions in the rectal gut mucosa which persist long after clinical symptoms have resolved.

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