Send to

Choose Destination
Laryngoscope. 1997 May;107(5):640-7.

Intracellular reservoir of Streptococcus pyogenes in vivo: a possible explanation for recurrent pharyngotonsillitis.

Author information

Department of Clinical Microbiology, University Hospital, Uppsala, Sweden.


Numerous theories have been presented that attempt to explain the frequent recurrences of pharyngotonsillitis caused by Streptococcus pyogenes; these recurrences occur after seemingly adequate antibiotic treatment. We previously have demonstrated that Spyogenes can survive for up to 7 days intracellularly in immortalized human respiratory epithelial cells grown in an antibiotic supplemented medium. Viable S pyogenes were externalized and established an extracellular infection, whenever the extracellular antibiotic was removed. We have investigated the presence of intracellular S pyogenes in two in vivo studies using respiratory epithelial cells collected from patients with tonsillitis and the tonsils of asymptomatic carriers. Electron microscopy and immunohistochemistry demonstrated intracellular S pyogenes in pharyngeal epithelial cells in 13 of 14 patients with tonsillitis (93%). Furthermore, intracellular S pyogenes were found in macrophage-like cells in eight (73%) and in epithelial cells in four (36%) tonsils from 11 asymptomatic S pyogenes carriers. These in vivo data strongly support the hypothesis that intracellular S pyogenes can constitute a reservoir of bacteria with the potential to cause reinfections.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Wiley
Loading ...
Support Center