The influence of different concentrations of melatonin on the cell surface hydrophobic characteristics of Neisseria meningitidis

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The cell surface hydrophobicity of micro-organisms is a characteristic that has been associated with the colonization of mammalian epithelia and with their capacity to induce diseases. Melatonin is a hormone produced by the pineal gland that affects the immune response mechanism. This study investigated, as an expression of the virulence of Neisseria meningitidis, how its hydrophobic characteristics were affected by exposure to increasing concentrations of melatonin. An increase in the cell surface hydrophobicity of N. meningitidis was found at concentrations of 1 mmol l−1, while lower concentrations of melatonin did not significantly affect this particular cell surface characteristic of the micro-organism. It may be concluded that melatonin clearly influences the cell surface hydrophobicity of N. meningitidis, a circumstance that should be taken into account in future studies to determine whether this hormone plays a role in the variable pathogenicity of the bacteria in different hosts.

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