, Volume 20, Issue 1, pp 47-52

Coaggregation of urogenital bacteria in vitro and in vivo

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The working hypotheses of the present study were that (1) bacterial coaggregates exist in the urogenital tract of healthy and infected women, and (2) coaggregation reactions can occur in vitro between members of the urogenital flora. Examination of urogenital specimens from 25 healthy women showed that lactobacilli were the dominant organisms colonizing the epithelia and coaggregating with other Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria. In vitro light and electron microscopic studies confirmed that members of the urogenital flora could coaggregate. An examination of specimens from 9 women with urinary tract infection showed the presence of autoaggregated uropathogens free-floating in the urine and attached to epithelial cells. The phenomenon of autoaggregation was also noted in vitro for various uropathogens, suggestive that this may represent a virulence factor. It is evident that bacterial cell-to-cell binding within a strain and among different genera occurs in the urogenital tract. Further studies of the mechanisms that maintain and disrupt these microbial interactions will help to improve our understanding of disease initiation.