Hardy, Samantha J., Christodoulides, Myron, Weller, Roy O. and Heckels, John E.
Interactions of Neisseria meningitidis with cells of the human meninges
Molecular Microbiology, 36, (4), . (doi:10.1046/j.1365-2958.2000.01923.x). (PMID:10844670).
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The interaction of Neisseria meningitidis with the meninges that surround and protect the brain is a pivotal event in the progression of bacterial meningitis. Two models of the human meninges were established in vitro, using (i) sections of fresh human brain and (ii) cultures of viable cells grown from human meningiomas. Neisseria meningitidis showed a specific predilection for binding to the leptomeninges and meningeal blood vessels in human brain and not to the cerebral cortex. There was a close correlation between the adherence of different Neisseria species to leptomeninges and cultured cells. The major ligand that mediated adherence was the pilus, and pilin variation modulated the interactions. The presence of Opa protein increased the association of Cap+ meningococci that expressed low-adhesive pili, but did not influence the association of high-adhesive pili. In contrast, Opc did not influence the adherence of Cap+ meningococci, whereas loss of capsule was associated with a more intimate interaction between the bacteria and the meningioma cell that was not apparent with Cap+ meningococci. There was no evidence of internalization of meningococci by meningioma cells in vitro, an observation that is consistent with the barrier properties of the leptomeninges to N. meningitidis observed in vivo.
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