Neisseria meningitidis causes life threatening meningitis, meningococcal sepsis in humans

Understanding the pathway of how the bacterium colonizes people

"Neisseria meningitidis is an important human pathogen that can cause rapidly progressing, life threatening meningitis and meningococcal sepsis in humans," Professor Jennings said.

"Until now we have not known how it attaches to the human host. It has been a long-standing mystery how it attaches to the airway to colonise"

People can be carriers of the bug and not get any symptoms, while some people progress to invasive disease. To understand why, we need to know the detail of how the bacterium colonises the airway. Now that the pathway has been identified we can study this process to understand how invasive disease occurs. This is especially important considering the rapidly progressing and serious outcomes of meningococcal disease.

"If you understand how the bug first attaches and how it first signals its attachment then we may identify new risk factors or treatment procedures," Professor Jennings said.

The findings were published Friday in the highly regard PLOS Pathogens journal as featured research "Dual Pili Post-translational Modifications Synergize to Mediate Meningococcal Adherence to Platelet Activating Factor Receptor on Human Airway Cells."

The paper states: There is no fully protective vaccine against this pathogen in current use and the key processes that dictate the transition from harmless carriage of the bacterium in the airway (the case for the vast majority of colonised hosts) to invasive disease are largely undefined. A key missing link in this organism's interaction with the human host is the identity of the receptor that is the first point of contact for the organism within the airway.

Professor Jennings said the receptor is used by a range of airway pathogens and the bacterium mimics a human structure to attach to this receptor.

"It's not actually protein that attaches to the receptor but decorations on the protein that are known as post-translational modifications. One of these is a sugar structure, which of course is of great interest to our work here at Glycomics," he said.

Comments

  1. Caroline Petrie Caroline Petrie United States says:

    The Meningitis Foundation of America (MFA), a national organization, would like the public & media to know that information is available regarding the diagnosis, treatment & prevention of meningitis. MFA was founded in 1997 by parents whose children were affected by meningitis. In addition to supporting vaccination & preventing meningitis, the MFA provides information to educate the public & medical professionals so that the early diagnosis, treatment &, most important, prevention of meningitis, will save lives. Meningitis is a dangerous & often times fatal inflammation of the brain &/or spinal cord that can leave survivors with serious life-long physical problems MFA would like to be considered as a news resource for the disease. For further information, visit the MFA website at www musa org.

    Thank you,
    MFA
    Box 1818
    El Mirage AZ  85335
    480 270 2652
    World Meningitis Day 24 April 2014
    www comoonline org
    Educate~Vaccinate~Eradicate

The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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