Complement activation and development of murine bacteraemia and meningitis following intranasal instillation of cell-bound fimbriated or non-fimbriated organisms were compared to clarify the role of fimbriae in the pathogenesis of illnesses caused by type b (Hib). In-vitro resistance of non-fimbriate bacteria to the bactericidal effects of normal human serum was at least 400 times greater than that of fimbriate bacteria. The amount of C3 bound to fimbriate Hib was more than that to non-fimbriate Hib. When mice were infected with fimbriate bacteria, 11.5% died. When mice were infected with non-fimbriate bacteria, the mean number of viable organisms gradually increased or was constant up to day 7; 38.5% of these mice died. These in-vivo results were coincident with the in-vitro data. However, the content of polyribosyl ribitol phosphate (PRP) in fimbriate organisms was the same as in non-fimbriate organisms. These results indicate that fimbriate Hib may be less likely to produce bacteraemia and meningitis, correlating with the greater susceptibility to complement-mediated bacteriolysis and the lower mortality seen with this type of organism, although fimbriae increase adherence to epithelial cells (mucosal surface).


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