Cultivation of Neisseria gonorrhoeae in the allantoic cavity of 10-day chick embryos ensured the following necessary properties for subsequent quantitive in vitro phagocytosis studies of viable gonococci: log phase of growth, resistance to the cidal effect of fresh human serum, maintenance of colonial type, and absence of clumping. Employing a modification of the Maaloe technique, phagocytosis of log-phase type 1 and 2 gonococci by human PMN leukocytes did not occur in the presence or absence of serum. These findings indicate that log-phase type 1 and 2 gonococci possess antiphagocytic surface factors Stationary-phase organisms of the same colonial type were ingested and rapidly killed by human PMN leukocytes under similar experimental conditions, thus emphasizing the necessity to employ log-phase gonococci in the study of phagocytosis and antiphagocytic surface factors. Log-phase type 4 gonococci were ingested and rapidly killed by human PMN leukocytes in the presence of fresh human serum but not heat-inactivated serum or in the absence of serum. Morphologic studies demonstrated that log-phase viable gonococci attach to the surface membrane of human PMN leukocytes. Interiorization of avirulent but not virulent organisms was observed in the presence of fresh human serum. Gonococci-human PMN leukocyte interactions thus provide a model for the investigation of the nonimmunologic and immunologic parameters associated with the attachment and ingestion stages of phagocytosis.

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