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© 2007 Buchinsky et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract or Description

BACKGROUND: The nontypeable Haemophilus influenzae (NTHi) are associated with a spectrum of respiratory mucosal infections including: acute otitis media (AOM); chronic otitis media with effusion (COME); otorrhea; locally invasive diseases such as mastoiditis; as well as a range of systemic disease states, suggesting a wide range of virulence phenotypes. Genomic studies have demonstrated that each clinical strain contains a unique genic distribution from a population-based supragenome, the distributed genome hypothesis. These diverse clinical and genotypic findings suggest that each NTHi strain possesses a unique set of virulence factors that contributes to the course of the disease.

RESULTS: The local and systemic virulence patterns of ten genomically characterized low-passage clinical NTHi strains (PittAA - PittJJ) obtained from children with COME or otorrhea were stratified using the chinchilla model of otitis media (OM). Each isolate was used to bilaterally inoculate six animals and thereafter clinical assessments were carried out daily for 8 days by blinded observers. There was no statistical difference in the time it took for any of the 10 NTHi strains to induce otologic (local) disease with respect to any or all of the other strains, however the differences in time to maximal local disease and the severity of local disease were both significant between the strains. Parameters of systemic disease indicated that the strains were not all equivalent: time to development of the systemic disease, maximal systemic scores and mortality were all statistically different among the strains. PittGG induced 100% mortality while PittBB, PittCC, and PittEE produced no mortality. Overall Pitt GG, PittII, and Pitt FF produced the most rapid and most severe local and systemic disease. A post hoc determination of the clinical origins of the 10 NTHi strains revealed that these three strains were of otorrheic origin, whereas the other 7 were from patients with COME.

CONCLUSION: Collectively these data suggest that the chinchilla OM model is useful for discriminating between otorrheic and COME NTHi strains as to their disease-producing potential in humans, and combined with whole genome analyses, point the way towards identifying classes of virulence genes.




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BMC microbiology, 7, 56-56.