Neisseria gonorrhoeae

Neisseria gonorrhoeae
Neisseria gonorrhoeae
Neisseria gonorrhoeae cultured on two different media types and presented in stereoscopic 3d.
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Bacteria
Phylum: Proteobacteria
Class: Beta Proteobacteria
Order: Neisseriales
Family: Neisseriaceae
Genus: Neisseria
Species: N. gonorrhoeae
Binomial name
Neisseria gonorrhoeae
Zopf, 1885

Gonococcus Neisser 1879

Neisseria gonorrhoeae, also known as gonococci (plural), or gonococcus (singular), is a species of Gram-negative coffee bean-shaped diplococci bacteria responsible for the sexually transmitted infection gonorrhea.[1]

N. gonorrhoea was first described by Albert Neisser in 1879.



Neisseria are fastidious Gram-negative cocci that require nutrient supplementation to grow in laboratory cultures. Specifically, they grow on chocolate agar with carbon dioxide. These cocci are facultatively intracellular and typically appear in pairs (diplococci), in the shape of coffee beans. Of the eleven species of Neisseria that colonize humans, only two are pathogens. N. gonorrhoeae is the causative agent of gonorrhea (also called "The Clap," which is derived from the French word "clapier," meaning "brothel") and is transmitted via sexual contact.[2]

Neisseria is usually isolated on Thayer-Martin agar—an agar plate containing antibiotics (Vancomycin, Colistin, Nystatin, and SXT) and nutrients that facilitate the growth of Neisseria species while inhibiting the growth of contaminating bacteria and fungi. Further testing to differentiate the species includes testing for oxidase (all clinically relevant Neisseria show a positive reaction) and the carbohydrates maltose, sucrose, and glucose test in which N. gonorrhoeae will only oxidize (that is, utilize) the glucose.

N. gonorrhoeae are motile (twitching motility) and possess type IV pili to adhere to surfaces. The type IV pili operate mechanistically similar to a grappling hook. Pili extend and attach to a substrate which signals the pilus to retract, dragging the cell forward. N. gonorrhoeae are able to pull 100,000 times their own weight and it has been claimed that the pili used to do so are the strongest biological motor known to date, exerting one nanonewton.[3]

N. gonorrhoeae has surface proteins called Opa proteins, which bind to receptors on immune cells. In so doing, N. gonorrhoeae is able to prevent an immune response. The host is also unable to develop an immunological memory against N. gonorrhoeae – which means that future reinfection is possible. N. gonorrhoeae can also evade the immune system through a process called antigenic variation, in which the N. gonorrhoeae bacterium is able to alter the Opa proteins that adorn its surface. The many permutations of surface proteins make it more difficult for immune cells to recognize N. gonorrhoeae and mount a defense.[4]

N. gonorrhoeae is naturally competent for DNA transformation as well as being capable of conjugation. Both of these concepts allow for the DNA of N. gonorrhoeae the ability to undergo conformational changes. Especially dangerous to the health industry is the ability to conjugate since this can lead to antibiotic resistance.

In 2011, researchers at Northwestern University found evidence of a human DNA fragment in a Neisseria gonorrhoeae genome, the first example of horizontal gene transfer from humans to a bacterial pathogen.[5][6]


Symptoms of infection with N. gonorrhoeae differ depending on the site of infection. Note also that 10% of infected males and 80% of infected females are asymptomatic.[citation needed]

Infection of the genitals can result in a purulent (or pus-like) discharge from the genitals which may be foul smelling. Symptoms may include inflammation, redness, swelling, and dysuria

N. gonorrhoeae can also cause conjunctivitis, pharyngitis, proctitis or urethritis, prostatitis and orchitis.

Conjunctivitis is common in neonates (newborns), and silver nitrate or antibiotics are often applied to their eyes as a preventive measure against gonorrhoea. Neonatal gonorrheal conjunctivitis is contracted when the infant is exposed to N. gonorrhoeae in the birth canal and can lead to corneal scarring or perforation, resulting in blindness in the neonate.

Disseminated N. gonorrhoeae infections can occur, resulting in endocarditis, meningitis or gonococcal dermatitis-arthritis syndrome. Dermatitis-arthritis syndrome presents with arthralgia, tenosynovitis and painless non-pruritic (non-itchy) dermatitis.

Infection of the genitals in females with N. gonorrhoeae can result in pelvic inflammatory disease if left untreated, which can result in infertility. Pelvic inflammatory disease results if N. gonorrhoeae travels into the pelvic peritoneum (via the cervix, endometrium and fallopian tubes). Infertility is caused by inflammation and scarring of the fallopian tube. Infertility is a risk to 10 to 20% of the females infected with N. gonorrhoeae.

Treatment and Prevention

If N. gonorrhoeae is resistant to the penicillin family of antibiotics, then ceftriaxone (a third-generation cephalosporin) is often used. Sexual partners should also be notified and treated. [7]

Patients should also be tested for other sexually transmitted infections, especially Chlamydia infections, since co-infection is frequent (up to 50% of cases). Antibacterial coverage is often included for Chlamydia because of this.

Transmission can be reduced by the usage of latex barriers, such as condoms or dental dams, during intercourse, oral and anal sex, and by limiting sexual partners.

See also


  1. ^ Ryan KJ, Ray CG (editors) (2004). Sherris Medical Microbiology (4th ed.). McGraw Hill. ISBN 0838585299. 
  2. ^ Genco, C; Wetzler, L (editors) (2010). Neisseria: Molecular Mechanisms of Pathogenesis. Caister Academic Press. ISBN 978-1-904455-51-6. 
  3. ^ "Mighty microbe pulls 100,000 times its bodyweight". New Scientist. 19 April 2008. Retrieved 2009-07-01. 
  4. ^ STI Awareness: Gonorrhea. Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona. 11 April 2011. Retrieved 31 August 2011.
  5. ^ "Gonorrhea Acquires a Piece of Human DNA: First Evidence of Gene Transfer from Human Host to Bacterial Pathogen". 13 February 2011. Retrieved 15 February 2011. 
  6. ^ Anderson, Mark T.; H. Steven Seifert (15). "Opportunity and Means: Horizontal Gene Transfer from the Human Host to a Bacterial Pathogen". MBio 2 (1): e00005–11. doi:10.1128/mBio.00005-11. PMC 3042738. PMID 21325040. 
  7. ^

External links

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Neisseria gonorrhoeae — (Gram Färbung) Systematik Abteilung: Proteobacteria Klasse …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Neisseria Gonorrhoeae — Neisseria gonorrhoeae …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Neisseria gonorrhoeae — Neisseria gonorrhoeae …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Neisseria gonorrhoeae — 1. [Albert L. S. Neisser, dermatólogo polaco, n. 1855], diplococo inmóvil gramnegativo, que se presenta al microscopio en forma de parejas aplanadas en el interior del citoplasma de los neutrófilos. Es el microorganismo causante de la gonorrea. 2 …   Diccionario médico

  • Neisseria gonorrhoeae — es un agente etiológico de gonococia, enfermedad de transmisión sexual. Es un diplococo gram negativo, oxidasa positivo. Requiere medios muy nutritivos para el crecimiento, como agar chocolate. Igualmente para su cultivo requiere una atmósfera… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Neisseria gonorrhoeae —   Neisseria gonorrhoeae …   Wikipedia Español

  • Neisseria gonorrhoeae — В этой статье не хватает ссылок на источники информации. Информация должна быть проверяема, иначе она может быть поставлена под сомнение и удалена. Вы можете …   Википедия

  • Neisseria gonorrhoeae) — В этой статье не хватает ссылок на источники информации. Информация должна быть проверяема, иначе она может быть поставлена под сомнение и удалена. Вы можете …   Википедия

  • Neisseria gonorrhoeae — Neisseria gonorrhoeae …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Neisseria gonorrhoeae — the specific etiologic agent of gonorrhea, occurring typically as pairs of flattened cells, found primarily in purulent venereal discharges …   Medical dictionary

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