The ability of different serotypes of group B streptococci (GBS) to induce septic arthritis in mice was compared. Types II, III, IV, V, VI and VII GBS were investigated. A highly capsulate strain of type III GBS, COH1, and its mutants, COH1–11 (lacking capsular sialic acid) and COH1–13 (non-capsulate), obtained by transposon insertional mutagenesis, were used to assess the role of type-specific polysaccharide on the induction of arthritis. At an intravenous dose of 10 cfu/mouse, reference strains of types II, III, IV, VI and VII and type III strain COH1 induced arthritis with an incidence ranging from 70 to 90%. For type V and strain COH1-11, 10 cfu/mouse was required to obtain a 50% incidence of arthritis; lesions were not evident with strain COH1–13. The presence of the capsule played a major role in the induction of GBS septic arthritis. The presence and amount of sialic acid in capsular polysaccharide influenced the incidence of articular lesions. The bacterial dose affected the manifestations of arthritis; the less virulent strains of GBS also induced articular lesions when an adequate number of micro-organisms reached the joints.


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