THE ABILITY of bacteria to adhere to epithelial surfaces has been correlated with their pathogenicity. The bacteria studied include enteropathogenic in the gut of man (McNeish , 1975) and of animals (Sellwood , 1975; Nagy, Moon and Isaacson, 1977), streptococci in the human oral cavity (Ellen and Gibbons, 1974), gonococci in the urogenital tract (Ward and Watt, 1975), in the small intestine (Freter and Jones, 1976; Jones, Abrahams and Freter, 1976) and mycoplasmas in the respiratory tract (Powell , 1976).

The adhesion between bacteria and epithelial surfaces may be specific and selective, involving bacterial cell-surface components and specific surface components of the host mucosal cells. For example, pathogenic strains of adhere to the ileum rather than the duodenum of pigs and calves, and within the ileum adhere to the tips rather than the bases of the villi (Arbuckle, 1970; Smith, 1977). However, the surface components of bacteria and of host cells responsible for this adhesion have not been fully defined. The bacterial surface components may be fimbriae. These are non-flagellar filamentous appendages, the term "fimbriae" being introduced by Duguid and co-workers (1955) who described the haemagglutinating ability of fimbriate bacteria. Other factors in addition to fimbriae may also be involved or the mechanism of adhesion may depend upon factors that do not include fimbriae.

Studies on adhesion of to epithelial surfaces have included observations on adhesion to and penetration of monolayers of cultured HeLa and Hep 2 cells (Du Pont , 1971), guinea-pig eyes (Serény, 1957; Du Pont , 1971; Guerrant , 1975), adhesion studies with epithelial cells from the urinary tract (Svanborg Edén , 1976) and with epithelial cells from the buccal cavity (Ellen and Gibbons, 1974).

The aim of our investigation was to compare the ability of strains of to adhere to and to invade a variety of cell surfaces, and to compare the adhesive properties of strains of from urinary-tract infections and from normal faeces, to determine whether there is a correlation between the source of a strain and its adhesive and invasive properties.


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