Importance of adhesins in the recurrence of pharyngeal infections caused byStreptococcus pyogenes

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Pharyngo-amygdalitis is the most common infection caused by Streptococcus pyogenes (S. pyogenes). Reinfection with strains of different M types commonly occurs. However, a second infection with a strain of the same M type can still occur and is referred to as recurrence. We aimed to assess whether recurrence of S. pyogenes could be associated to erythromycin resistance, biofilm formation or surface adhesins like fibronectin-binding proteins and pilus proteins, both located in the fibronectin-binding, collagen-binding, T-antigen (FCT) region.


We analyed clinical isolates of S. pyogenes obtained from children with multiple positive cultures of throat swabs. We analysed potential associations between M types, clonal patterns, biofilm production and FCT types with their capacity of producing a recurrent infection. We genetically defined recurrence as an infection with the same M type (same strain) and reinfection as an infection with a different M type.


No differences were observed between recurrent and reinfection isolates in relation to erythromycin resistance, presence and number of domains of prtF1 gene, and biofilm formation capacity; the only significant difference was the higher frequency of FCT-4 type among recurrent isolates. However, when all the factors that could contribute to recurrence (erythromycin resistance, biofilm production, presence of prtF1 gene and FCT-4 type) were analysed together, we observed that recurrent isolates have a higher number of factors than reinfection isolates.


Recurrence seems not to be associated with biofilm formation. However, pili and fibronectin-binding proteins could be associated with recurrence because FCT-4 isolates which harbour two fibronectin-binding proteins are more frequent among recurrent isolates.

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