Staphylococcus Antigens

Staphylococcus is a Gram-positive bacteria genus that belongs to the family Staphylococcaceae. The Staphylococcus genus contains at least 40 species. And they were traditionally divided into two groups according to their ability to clot blood plasma: the coagulase-positive staphylococci (CPS) and the coagulase-negative staphylococci (CNS). The CPS constitutes S aureus, one of the most pathogenic species in this genus. And CNS contains more than 30 species, which are common commensals of skin despite the fact that some CNS species may cause infection.

Staphylococcus aureus bacteria taken from a vancomycin intermediate resistant culture (VISA)

Fig.1. Staphylococcus aureus bacteria taken from a vancomycin intermediate resistant culture (VISA)

Staphylococcus are Gram-positive cocci with diameters of about 0.5 – 1.0 μm. The bacteria grow in pairs, clusters and short chains occasionally. The clusters as staphylococci divide in two planes. The configuration of the cocci can help distinguishing micrococci and staphylococci from streptococci, which grow in chains. As streptococci grown on solid medium could appear as clumps, observations must be processed on cultures grown in broth.

Staphylococcus species are pathogens of man and other mammals. They can cause various forms of infection such as superficial skin lesions and localized abscesses, deep-seated infections, surgical wound infections, food poisoning, toxic shock syndrome, urinary tract infections, and other forms of infections. S aureus is notorious for causing styes, boils, furuncles, impetigo and other superficial skin infections in humans. These infections include pneumonia, phlebitis, deep abscesses, endocarditis, osteomyelitis, mastitis and meningitis, and are often associated with hospitalized patients. S aureus expresses a lot of extracellular and cell surface-associated proteins, which are thought to be potential virulence factors. (1) Surface proteins that promote colonization of host tissues. (2) Factors that probably inhibit phagocytosis (capsule, immunoglobulin binding protein A). (3) Toxins that damage host tissues and cause disease symptoms. Thus the pathogenesis is multifactorial for most of the diseases caused by this bacterium. It is difficult to determine the role of any given factor precisely.

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