4 : Emerging from Obscurity: Understanding Pulmonary and Extrapulmonary Syndromes, Pathogenesis, and Epidemiology of Human Infections

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This chapter explores the fascinating biology and history of human mycoplasma infections with a focus on disease caused by . It addresses the association of infections with asthma. An important question is whether mycoplasmas are a primary cause of asthma, or if mycoplasma infection is at least a cofactor in the development of asthma. The suggestion that may play a role beyond simple, acute exacerbation comes from multiple lines of evidence. First, can be recovered more often from the airways of patients with chronic, stable asthma than from matched control patients . Second, chronic reductions in lung function tests 1 year, 3 years, and up to 9 years or more after an episode of mycoplasma respiratory tract infection have been reported, establishing the ability of mycoplasmas to induce chronic to permanent lung damage long after resolution of respiratory tract symptoms. Third, is known to induce a number of inflammatory mediators implicated in the pathogenesis of asthma. A number of important research questions need renewed attention to provide a better understanding of pathogenesis. These include the role of autoimmunity induction in a variety of mycoplasma syndromes, the existence and importance of an asymptomatic carrier state, and a much better understanding of the role of direct invasion in extrapulmonary syndromes.

Citation: Talkington D, Schwartz S, Besser R, Waites K. 2001. Emerging from Obscurity: Understanding Pulmonary and Extrapulmonary Syndromes, Pathogenesis, and Epidemiology of Human Infections, p 57-84. In Scheld W, Craig W, Hughes J (ed), Emerging Infections 5. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555816988.ch4

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Lower Respiratory Tract Infections
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Scanning electron micrograph of whole cells. Arrowheads indicate terminal structures (tip organelles). Reprinted from reference with permission.

Citation: Talkington D, Schwartz S, Besser R, Waites K. 2001. Emerging from Obscurity: Understanding Pulmonary and Extrapulmonary Syndromes, Pathogenesis, and Epidemiology of Human Infections, p 57-84. In Scheld W, Craig W, Hughes J (ed), Emerging Infections 5. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555816988.ch4
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Table 1

Members of genus known to colonize or infect humans

Citation: Talkington D, Schwartz S, Besser R, Waites K. 2001. Emerging from Obscurity: Understanding Pulmonary and Extrapulmonary Syndromes, Pathogenesis, and Epidemiology of Human Infections, p 57-84. In Scheld W, Craig W, Hughes J (ed), Emerging Infections 5. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555816988.ch4

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