To identify virulence-associated properties of Haemophilus ducreyi, 34 strains of this sexually transmitted pathogen were evaluated for in vitro phenotypic characteristics of potential relevance to chancroid pathogenesis and for their ability to produce lesions in the temperature-dependent animal model for chancroid. Of the 34 strains tested, all but three produced a cytopathic effect on human foreskin fibroblasts (HFF) and all but six strains formed large microcolonies on HFF monolayers. A subset of 12 selected strains underwent more extensive analyses and, when evaluated for both their cytadherence kinetics and growth in the presence of HFF monolayers, it was found that several of these strains had a very limited ability to attach to HFF cells. When the same 12 strains were tested in the temperature-dependent rabbit model, only the seven strains which were positive in all of these in vitro-based tests readily produced lesions. In contrast, the five strains that were noted to be deficient in one or more of the phenotypic characteristics scored in the in vitro systems did not produce lesions. This association between the traits measured in vitro and the ability to produce dermal lesions was significant (P = 0.0012). These results suggest that in vitro behavior may be used to predict the virulence potential of H. ducreyi strains. Moreover, the phenotypic characteristics described in this study are appropriate focal points for efforts to determine the molecular basis of the virulence of this pathogen.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Infectious Diseases