Molecular determinants of the pathogenesis of disease due to non-typable Haemophilus influenzae

FEMS Microbiol Rev. 1999 Apr;23(2):99-129. doi: 10.1111/j.1574-6976.1999.tb00393.x.


Non-typable Haemophilus influenzae is a common commensal organism in the human upper respiratory tract and an important cause of localized respiratory tract disease. The pathogenesis of disease begins with bacterial colonization of the nasopharynx, a process that involves establishment on the mucosal surface and evasion of local immune mechanisms. Under the proper circumstances, the organism spreads contiguously to the middle ear, the sinuses, or the lungs, and then stimulates a brisk inflammatory response, producing symptomatic infection. In this review, we summarize our present understanding of the molecular determinants of this sequence of events. Continued investigation of the molecular mechanism of non-typable H. influenzae pathogenicity should facilitate development of novel approaches to the treatment and prevention of H. influenzae disease.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adhesins, Bacterial / genetics
  • Adhesins, Bacterial / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Bacterial Outer Membrane Proteins / genetics
  • Bacterial Outer Membrane Proteins / metabolism
  • Bacterial Proteins / genetics
  • Fimbriae, Bacterial / genetics
  • Fimbriae, Bacterial / metabolism
  • Haemophilus Infections / epidemiology
  • Haemophilus Infections / microbiology*
  • Haemophilus influenzae / chemistry
  • Haemophilus influenzae / pathogenicity*
  • Heme / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Mucosal
  • Iron / metabolism
  • Laryngeal Mucosa / microbiology
  • Membrane Proteins / genetics
  • Mucociliary Clearance
  • Nasal Mucosa / microbiology
  • Serine Endopeptidases / metabolism


  • Adhesins, Bacterial
  • Bacterial Outer Membrane Proteins
  • Bacterial Proteins
  • HMW1 protein, Mycoplasma
  • Hap protein, Hemophilus influenzae
  • Membrane Proteins
  • Heme
  • Iron
  • Serine Endopeptidases
  • IgA-specific serine endopeptidase