Scanning Electron Microscopy


Organ cultures of human heart valves were used as a model to study the initial pathobiology of acute infective bacterial endocarditis. We used Staphylococcus aureus isolated from a case of infective endocarditis to infect the in vitro culture of the heart valves. Using scanning electron microscopy, we assessed the initial damage, attachment to and invasion of the endothelial cell layer by staphylococci. Our results indicate there is initial damage to the endothelium prior to observation of staphylococci attaching to the endothelial cell. By 12 h post infection, there is significant attachment and damage. At 24 h after infection, destruction of the heart valve endothelium is complete. The attachment and destruction arc progressive events and can be correlated quantitatively with bacterial numbers from the culture medium and those attached to the valves. This is correlated with increasing adherence ratios of the attaching staphylococci.

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