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A search for mycoplasma infections in patients with chronic bronchitis
  1. J. D. Cherry1,
  2. D. Taylor-Robinson,
  3. H. Willers2,
  4. A. C. Stenhouse
  1. Clinical Research Centre, Harvard Hospital, Salisbury, Wilts
  2. University of Sheffield, Virus Research Laboratory, Lodge Moor Hospital, Sheffield


    Throat and bronchoscopy specimens for mycoplasma isolation studies were collected from 22 patients with chronic bronchitis and 20 patients without chronic bronchitis. Twenty-six of 50 patients attending a chronic bronchitis clinic had throat, nasal, or sputum specimens collected for attempted mycoplasma isolation, and all of these patients had multiple serum samples taken for mycoplasma antibody studies. Mycoplasmas were recovered from throat and bronchoscopy specimens of the chronic bronchitic and non-bronchitic patients with about equal frequency. The concentration of organisms in the bronchoscopy specimens of two patients with chronic bronchitis was greater than in their throat specimens, suggesting downward spread and multiplication of mycoplasmas rather than contamination by passage of the bronchoscope. Eighty-three per cent of the rises in mycoplasma antibody titre in chronic bronchitic patients occurred during or immediately after an acute respiratory illness, and this relationship of rise in antibody titre to acute illness was significantly more frequent than rises in antibody titre not associated with illness. We suggest that mycoplasmas may be present in the bronchi of some patients suffering from chronic bronchitis and that, while such mycoplasma infections are often silent, they may become sufficiently active during infection by other agents to stimulate a mycoplasma antibody response.

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    • 1 Visiting worker in Salisbury from the Department of Pediatrics, St. Louis University School of Medicine, St. Louis, Mo.

    • 2 Visiting worker in Salisbury in receipt of a WHO junior research training grant. Permanent address: Staatliches Medizinaluntersuchungsamt, 3 Hannover, Auestrasse 30, West Germany