Recurrent episodes of infections in the upper respiratory tract are very common. The pathogenesis behind these recurrences is still not well understood, but much attention has been paid to the adherence of the microorganisms to epithelial structures and to the protective function of the normal bacterial flora (bacterial interference). Thus, in vitro as well as in vivo studies have shown that both aerobic and anaerobic bacteria of the normal flora in the upper respiratory tract can hinder the growth of pathogens and the establishment of a renewed infection. Studies have shown that lack of interfering bacteria facilitates recurrence of these diseases. Recolonization with interfering alpha-streptococci has been performed successfully in acute streptococcal pharyngotonsillitis, as well as in acute otitis media. The number of recurrences has significantly been lowered in these diseases after recolonization with alpha-streptococci, which is the dominating normal bacteria in the upper respiratory tract. Several mechanisms have been proposed to be responsible for this interaction, such as competition of the adhering sites at the epithelial cells, production of hydrogen peroxide, competition for nutritients, and production of specific growth inhibiting factors such as bacteriocins. Other human components like lactoferrin are also important in the defense against microorganisms, and are important parts of the unspecific and specific immune system.
Current Infectious Disease Reports – Springer Journals
Published: May 19, 2002
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