Researchers discover new disease-causing bacterium in patients with rare immune disorder

Scientists at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), have discovered a new bacterium and determined that it can cause serious lymph node infections in patients with chronic granulomatous disease (CGD)--a rare immune disorder that leaves individuals susceptible to frequent and sometimes life-threatening fungal and bacterial infections. Details of the discovery are described in the April 14 issue of PLoS Pathogens.

Researchers found the novel bacterium--which they named Granulobacter bethesdensis in recognition of Bethesda, Md., the location of NIH headquarters--in the inflamed lymph nodes of a patient with CGD. The bacterium is part of the Acetobacteraceae family that includes several types of bacteria prevalent in the environment and used industrially to produce vinegar. This is the first time, however, that any member of that bacterial family has been known to cause invasive human disease. Moreover, it represents yet another infection concern for people with CGD, and possibly other individuals as well.

"The discovery of new bacteria is not uncommon, but discovering an organism that causes human illness is certainly unique and warrants further research," says NIH Director Elias A. Zerhouni, M.D.

"This finding is an important discovery both in understanding new human pathogens and in revealing a new source of illness in a patient population particularly vulnerable to bacterial infections," notes NIAID Director Anthony S. Fauci, M.D.

CGD, which affects one in 250,000 people worldwide, is one of 80 inherited immune disorders known collectively as primary immune deficiencies. The disease is caused by a genetic defect in an enzyme called phagocyte NADPH oxidase. Certain white blood cells called neutrophils use this enzyme to generate hydrogen peroxide that the cells need to kill bacteria and fungi. Because people with CGD cannot effectively fight off bacterial and

Contact: Kathy Stover
NIH/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

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