Vibrio vulnificus wound infection is characterized by an intense acute cellulitis which spreads along the subcutaneous tissue with severe tissue destruction. Toxins produced by the bacteria appear to be involved in the pathogenesis of skin necrosis and to facilitate microbial dissemination in vivo. We report microscopic studies of mouse skin damage caused by a single intradermal injection of V. vulnificus or of an extracellular metalloprotease isolated from this organism. The gene encoding this metalloprotease has been cloned and expressed in Escherichia coli. The crude metalloprotease extract obtained from the periplasmic fraction by osmotic shock was used in this study. Intradermal injection of this preparation resulted in marked edematous changes of the skin, which extended throughout the dermis and subcutaneous tissues and into adjacent muscles. The collagen and elastic fibers degenerated and some muscle cells even appeared necrotic. Blood vessels became congested, with moderate perivascular neutrophil and mononuclear cell infiltration. There was no evidence of necrotic changes in the blood vessel itself. These results show that the damage to the connective tissues caused by V. vulnificus is at least partly attributable to its protease. Therefore, the protease seems to be an important virulence factor of this microbe.
|Number of pages||8|
|Journal||Journal of the Formosan Medical Association|
|Publication status||Published - 1997 Sep 1|
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