Bacterial Pathogenesis and Immunology

A pathogen is a microorganism that is able to cause disease in a plant, animal or insect. Pathogenicity is the ability to produce disease in a host organism. Microbes express their pathogenicity by means of their virulence, a term which refers to the degree of pathogenicity of the microbe. Hence, the determinants of virulence of a pathogen are any of its genetic or biochemical or structural features that enable it to produce disease in a host. The relationship between a host and a pathogen is dynamic, since each modifies the activities and functions of the other. The outcome of such a relationship depends on the virulence of the pathogen and the relative degree of resistance or susceptibility of the host, due mainly to the effectiveness of the host defense mechanisms. Bacterial infectivity results from a disturbance in the balance between bacterial virulence and host resistance. The “objective” of bacteria is to multiply rather than to cause disease; it is in the best interest of the bacteria not to kill the host. Numerous physical and chemical attributes of the host protect against bacterial infection. These defenses include the antibacterial factors in secretions covering mucosal surfaces and rapid rate of replacement of skin and mucosal epithelial cells. Once the surface of the body is penetrated, bacteria encounter an environment virtually devoid of free iron needed for growth, which requires many of them to scavenge for this essential element. Bacteria invading tissues encounter phagocytic cells that recognize them as foreign, and through a complex signaling mechanism involving interleukins, eicosanoids, and complement, mediate an inflammatory response in which many lymphoid cells participate.

  • Immune Response and Bacterial Infections
  • Bacterial Toxins and Immnology
  • Intracellular Bacterial Vaccine Vectors

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