Gateway to Brain in Bacterial Meningitis Is Discovered

Scientists have discovered a key common mechanism in the pathology of bacterial meningitis, a disease that can cause death within hours of the appearance of symptoms. The researchers have shown that the three bacteria most commonly associated with childhood bacterial meningitis—Streptococcus pneumoniae, Neisseria meningitides, and Haemophilus influenzae—all target the same receptor (the laminin receptor) in the special filtering system (the vascular endothelium) that helps form the blood-brain barrier. This interaction allows the bacteria to pass through the barrier and enter the brain. The researchers suggested that disruption or modulation of the interaction of bacterial adhesins with the barrier receptor might offer unexpectedly broad protection against bacterial meningitis and might provide a therapeutic target for the prevention and treatment of disease. This work was published on May 13 in the Journal of Clinical Investigation. [Press release] [Journal of Clinical Investigation article]
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