Resistance of Neisseria gonorrhoeae grown in vivo to ingestion and digestion by phagocytes of human blood

J Gen Microbiol. 1976 Oct;96(2):341-50. doi: 10.1099/00221287-96-2-341.


Attempts to study quantitatively the phagocytosis of gonococci from urethral pus failed because of the small numbers of organisms and technical difficulties. However, gonococci from chambers implanted subcutaneously in guinea pigs, which were similar to gonococci from urethral pus in their resistance to killing by human serum, were obtained in sufficient quantities for comparison in phagocytosis tests with the in vitro grown strains from which they were derived. Microscopic and viable counts of gonococci in phagocytes showed that in vivo grown organisms (strain BSV) were readily phagocytosed by human polymorphonuclear phagocytes. There was little difference betweee to ingestion. There was, however, a marked difference in the intracellular survival of strains BSV and BS during the first hour of phagocytosis. Whereas BSV organisms survived well, many BS organisms were killed. Subsequently, strain BSV and the survivors of the strain BS inoculum responded similarly to the intracellular bactericidins. These results were supported by electron microscopy of infected phagocytes. Resistance of gonococci in vivo to ingestion and digestion by human phagocytes seem to be important facets of the pathogenesis of gonorrhoea.

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Neisseria gonorrhoeae* / ultrastructure
  • Neutrophils / physiology*
  • Neutrophils / ultrastructure
  • Phagocytosis*
  • Species Specificity