The high natural resistance of gonococci showing a characteristic ‘double highlight’ (DH) colonial morphology (Penn, Veale & Smith, 1977) to intracellular killing by human phagocytes was markedly reduced by addition of rabbit antiserum to the phagocytosis medium or by preincubation of organisms with antiserum. Antisera raised to three different DH gonococcal strains showed a complex pattern of specificity in phagocytosis tests with the homologous organisms and three other DH strains. The effect of antiserum could be neutralized by adsorption with intact organisms or with extracts, prepared ultrasonically, of the homologous strain. Antiserum also promoted the intracellular killing of a strain which had a ‘single highlight’ colonial morphology (Penn , 1977 ) and a low natural resistance to phagocytic killing, but adsorption with this strain neutralized the antiserum less consistently than the DH strain. The neutralization of antiserum-mediated promotion of intracellular killing by extracts of organisms naturally resistant to such killing may provide an assay for the aggressins responsible for this resistance.


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