SUMMARY: Immunocytochemical studies using antisera to whole human choriogonadotropin (hCG), to its α- and β-subunits and to the COOH-terminal peptide of hCGβ, and two monoclonal antibodies to hCGβ, demonstrated expression of hCG-like material, its individual subunits and/or fragments in nine bacterial strains. Seven of these were isolated from patients with cancer and were definitely identified as (three strains), (two strains) and and (single strains). The other two strains were cell-wall-deficient (CWD) variants, one identified as , isolated from the blood of a patient with a fever of unknown origin and a possible brain abscess. The other was a Gram-negative diphtheroid isolated from the urine of a pregnant woman, which during the period of study reverted to a Gram-positive identified as a ‘ strain and expressed the hCG-like factor only during its phase as Gram-negative diphtheroid. Electron microscopy of these nine strains (including negative controls of strains of the same species subjected to the same immunocytochemical analyses and under identical cultural conditions) revealed morphological alterations in the bacterial cell walls and cytoplasmic material and/or bizarre forms of reproduction in six of the nine strains expressing hCG-like material including the two CWD variants. Collectively, these results provided evidence that (1) hCG-producing bacteria isolated from patients with overt cancer are not a new and unique species as claimed by others, and (2) there is a close resemblance between the bacterial protein and the human trophoblastic hormone, based on immunochemical recognition of different parts of the hCG molecule. The morphological changes observed by electron microscopy may indicate that some of the bacteria expressing hCG-like material are revertants of CWD variants.


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