Adherence of group A streptococci to pharyngeal cells: a role in the pathogenesis of rheumatic fever

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Science  04 Aug 1978:
Vol. 201, Issue 4354, pp. 455-457
DOI: 10.1126/science.351810


We used an assay in vitro to investigate the possible role of streptococcal adherence to human pharyngeal cells in the pathogenesis of acute rheumatic fever. There was no difference in adherence of rheumatic fever-associated and non-associated strains of group A streptococci to pooled pharyngeal cells of normal people. Likewise, streptococci not associated with rheumatic fever adhered equally well to cells taken from normal people and from patients with rheumatic heart disease. However, the pharyngeal cells of all nine rheumatic heart disease patients tested had increased avidity for adherence for a rheumatic fever-associated strain of streptococcus compared to the pharyngeal cells obtained from age- and sex-matched controls. Increased streptococcal adherence to pharyngeal cells of rheumatic fever-prone patients may play a role in the pathogenesis of rheumatic fever.