The basis of persistent bacterial infections

Trends Microbiol. 2003 Feb;11(2):80-6. doi: 10.1016/s0966-842x(02)00038-0.


Selected bacterial pathogens, such as Helicobacter pylori and Mycobacterium tuberculosis, establish persistent infections in mammalian hosts despite activating inflammatory and antimicrobial responses. The strategies used to overcome host defense responses vary with the anatomical location of the infection but often rely on deliberate manipulations of the host cell responses. Phylogenetically unrelated bacteria can share similar strategies for the establishment of persistence and, in selected examples, one even can define homologous "persistence" genes. Such observations suggest that persistent infection is a specific phase in infection pathogenesis rather than a fortuitous imbalance in the host-pathogen interaction.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bacteria / immunology
  • Bacteria / pathogenicity*
  • Bacterial Infections / immunology
  • Bacterial Infections / microbiology*
  • Bacterial Proteins / chemistry
  • Bacterial Proteins / metabolism
  • Chronic Disease
  • Helicobacter pylori
  • Humans
  • Intracellular Membranes / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Mucous Membrane / microbiology
  • Spirochaetales / classification
  • Spirochaetales / pathogenicity


  • Bacterial Proteins