The role of pneumolysin in the pathogenesis of Streptococcus pneumoniae infection

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In addition to being cytotoxic for eukaryotic cells, recent research has clearly indicated that pneumolysin at sub-cytolytic concentrations potentiates the proinflammatory activities of neutrophils and macrophages. Together these cytotoxic and proinflammatory activities of the toxin are likely to contribute to the virulence of the pneumococcus, particularly in facilitating adherence, invasion and dissemination of this important microbial pathogen. Pneumolysin-based vaccine strategies, although in the early stages of development and evaluation, show promise in reducing the severity of pneumococcal disease.

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