The hypothesis was investigated that tissue tropism of during colonisation and infection is associated with the ability of fimbriate bacteria to bind to the organs and cell types involved. type b with fimbriae (strain 770235f) bound to several cell types, including ciliated columnar epithelial cells, pneumocytes, ependymal cells, glial cells, connective tissue fibroblasts, synovial cells, antigen-presenting cells, lymphocytes, erythrocytes and endothelial cells. Binding of to kidney, liver and conjunctiva cells was poor. Fimbriae-specific monoclonal antibody (MAb 6HE8) inhibited this binding. Some binding to endothelial cells and macrophages was also observed with non-fimbriate strains. This binding was not inhibited by MAb 6HE8. We conclude that in-vitro binding of fimbriate is mainly to those tissues and cells where is found during colonisation and infection. The data suggest that a shift to the nonfimbriate form is required for bacteria in the bloodstream to escape clearance mechanisms mediated by blood cells.


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