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Moraxella

Moraxella is a genus of gram-negative diplococci Gram-negative diplococci Neisseria, with M. catarrhalis being the most clinically relevant species. M. catarrhalis is part of the normal flora of the upper respiratory tract, but it can cause infection in susceptible individuals. The infection is transmitted through respiratory droplets Droplets Varicella-Zoster Virus/Chickenpox and can lead to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a lung disease characterized by progressive, largely irreversible airflow obstruction. The condition usually presents in middle-aged or elderly persons with a history of cigarette smoking. Signs and symptoms include prolonged expiration, wheezing, diminished breath sounds, progressive dyspnea, and chronic cough. Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) ( COPD COPD Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a lung disease characterized by progressive, largely irreversible airflow obstruction. The condition usually presents in middle-aged or elderly persons with a history of cigarette smoking. Signs and symptoms include prolonged expiration, wheezing, diminished breath sounds, progressive dyspnea, and chronic cough. Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)) exacerbations in adults and otitis media in children. Moraxella species are catalase- and oxidase-positive, allowing them to resist damage from reactive oxygen species Reactive oxygen species Molecules or ions formed by the incomplete one-electron reduction of oxygen. These reactive oxygen intermediates include singlet oxygen; superoxides; peroxides; hydroxyl radical; and hypochlorous acid. They contribute to the microbicidal activity of phagocytes, regulation of signal transduction and gene expression, and the oxidative damage to nucleic acids; proteins; and lipids. Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease in the highly oxygenated environment of the respiratory tract.

Last updated: Sep 8, 2022

Editorial responsibility: Stanley Oiseth, Lindsay Jones, Evelin Maza

Classification

Gram negative bacteria classification flowchart

Gram-negative bacteria gram-negative bacteria Bacteria which lose crystal violet stain but are stained pink when treated by gram’s method. Bacteriology:
Most bacteria Bacteria Bacteria are prokaryotic single-celled microorganisms that are metabolically active and divide by binary fission. Some of these organisms play a significant role in the pathogenesis of diseases. Bacteriology can be classified according to a lab procedure called Gram staining Gram staining Bacteriology.
Bacteria Bacteria Bacteria are prokaryotic single-celled microorganisms that are metabolically active and divide by binary fission. Some of these organisms play a significant role in the pathogenesis of diseases. Bacteriology with cell walls that have a thin layer of peptidoglycan Peptidoglycan Penicillins do not retain the crystal violet stain utilized in Gram staining Gram staining Bacteriology. These bacteria Bacteria Bacteria are prokaryotic single-celled microorganisms that are metabolically active and divide by binary fission. Some of these organisms play a significant role in the pathogenesis of diseases. Bacteriology do, however, retain the safranin counterstain and thus appear as pinkish-red on the stain, making them gram negative Gram negative Bacteria which lose crystal violet stain but are stained pink when treated by gram’s method. Yersinia spp./Yersiniosis. These bacteria Bacteria Bacteria are prokaryotic single-celled microorganisms that are metabolically active and divide by binary fission. Some of these organisms play a significant role in the pathogenesis of diseases. Bacteriology can be further classified according to morphology (diplococci, curved rods, bacilli Bacilli Shigella, and coccobacilli) and their ability to grow in the presence of oxygen (aerobic versus anaerobic). The bacteria Bacteria Bacteria are prokaryotic single-celled microorganisms that are metabolically active and divide by binary fission. Some of these organisms play a significant role in the pathogenesis of diseases. Bacteriology can be more narrowly identified by growing them on specific media (triple sugar iron Iron A metallic element with atomic symbol fe, atomic number 26, and atomic weight 55. 85. It is an essential constituent of hemoglobins; cytochromes; and iron-binding proteins. It plays a role in cellular redox reactions and in the transport of oxygen. Trace Elements ( TSI TSI Shigella) agar) where their enzymes Enzymes Enzymes are complex protein biocatalysts that accelerate chemical reactions without being consumed by them. Due to the body’s constant metabolic needs, the absence of enzymes would make life unsustainable, as reactions would occur too slowly without these molecules. Basics of Enzymes can be identified ( urease Urease An enzyme that catalyzes the conversion of urea and water to carbon dioxide and ammonia. Nocardia/Nocardiosis, oxidase Oxidase Neisseria) and their ability to ferment lactose can be tested.
* Stains poorly on Gram stain Gram stain Klebsiella
** Pleomorphic Pleomorphic Bacteroides rod/coccobacillus
*** Require special transport media

Image by Lecturio.

Characteristics

Features:

  • Stain: gram-negative
  • Morphology: diplococcus
  • Nonmotile
  • Growth and culture:
  • Asaccharolytic (does not ferment carbohydrates Carbohydrates A class of organic compounds composed of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen in a ratio of cn(H2O)n. The largest class of organic compounds, including starch; glycogen; cellulose; polysaccharides; and simple monosaccharides. Basics of Carbohydrates)

M. catarrhalis and M. lacunata are the most clinically relevant species within this genus.

Moraxella catarrhalis

Moraxella catarrhalis (diplococcus formation)

Image: “Moraxella Catarrhalis” by CDC/Dr. W.A. Clark. License: Public Domain

Pathogenesis

Transmission

  • Humans are the primary reservoir Reservoir Animate or inanimate sources which normally harbor disease-causing organisms and thus serve as potential sources of disease outbreaks. Reservoirs are distinguished from vectors (disease vectors) and carriers, which are agents of disease transmission rather than continuing sources of potential disease outbreaks. Humans may serve both as disease reservoirs and carriers. Escherichia coli.
  • M. catarrhalis spreads from person to person via respiratory droplets Droplets Varicella-Zoster Virus/Chickenpox.
  • Nasopharyngeal colonization Colonization Bacteriology
    • Common in infancy, but declines with age
    • Bacteria Bacteria Bacteria are prokaryotic single-celled microorganisms that are metabolically active and divide by binary fission. Some of these organisms play a significant role in the pathogenesis of diseases. Bacteriology can migrate to the middle ear Middle ear The space and structures directly internal to the tympanic membrane and external to the inner ear (labyrinth). Its major components include the auditory ossicles and the eustachian tube that connects the cavity of middle ear (tympanic cavity) to the upper part of the throat. Acute Otitis Media from the nasopharynx Nasopharynx The top portion of the pharynx situated posterior to the nose and superior to the soft palate. The nasopharynx is the posterior extension of the nasal cavities and has a respiratory function. Pharynx: Anatomy via the Eustachian tube Eustachian tube A narrow passageway that connects the upper part of the throat to the tympanic cavity. Ear: Anatomy.
    • ↑ Rate of colonization Colonization Bacteriology noted with increased pneumococcal vaccination Vaccination Vaccination is the administration of a substance to induce the immune system to develop protection against a disease. Unlike passive immunization, which involves the administration of pre-performed antibodies, active immunization constitutes the administration of a vaccine to stimulate the body to produce its own antibodies. Vaccination (which is believed to cause shifts in respiratory microbiome Microbiome Commensal organisms living in and on the body Innate Immunity: Barriers, Complement, and Cytokines).

Pathogenic features

  • Opportunistic pathogen: 
    • Infection occurs in the setting of a weakened immune system Immune system The body’s defense mechanism against foreign organisms or substances and deviant native cells. It includes the humoral immune response and the cell-mediated response and consists of a complex of interrelated cellular, molecular, and genetic components. Primary Lymphatic Organs or owing to existing respiratory disease (i.e., chronic obstructive pulmonary disease Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a lung disease characterized by progressive, largely irreversible airflow obstruction. The condition usually presents in middle-aged or elderly persons with a history of cigarette smoking. Signs and symptoms include prolonged expiration, wheezing, diminished breath sounds, progressive dyspnea, and chronic cough. Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) ( COPD COPD Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a lung disease characterized by progressive, largely irreversible airflow obstruction. The condition usually presents in middle-aged or elderly persons with a history of cigarette smoking. Signs and symptoms include prolonged expiration, wheezing, diminished breath sounds, progressive dyspnea, and chronic cough. Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD))).
    • Bacterial stress (i.e., cold shock Shock Shock is a life-threatening condition associated with impaired circulation that results in tissue hypoxia. The different types of shock are based on the underlying cause: distributive (↑ cardiac output (CO), ↓ systemic vascular resistance (SVR)), cardiogenic (↓ CO, ↑ SVR), hypovolemic (↓ CO, ↑ SVR), obstructive (↓ CO), and mixed. Types of Shock response) causes expression of pathogenic mechanisms within M. catarrhalis.
  • Pathogenic mechanisms:
    • Adhesins Adhesins Cell-surface components or appendages of bacteria that facilitate adhesion (bacterial adhesion) to other cells or to inanimate surfaces. Most fimbriae of gram-negative bacteria function as adhesins, but in many cases it is a minor subunit protein at the tip of the fimbriae that is the actual adhesin. In gram-positive bacteria, a protein or polysaccharide surface layer serves as the specific adhesin. What is sometimes called polymeric adhesin (biofilms) is distinct from protein adhesin. Diarrheagenic E. coli allow the bacteria Bacteria Bacteria are prokaryotic single-celled microorganisms that are metabolically active and divide by binary fission. Some of these organisms play a significant role in the pathogenesis of diseases. Bacteriology to bind BIND Hyperbilirubinemia of the Newborn to the mucosa.
    • Inhibits toll-like receptor Receptor Receptors are proteins located either on the surface of or within a cell that can bind to signaling molecules known as ligands (e.g., hormones) and cause some type of response within the cell. Receptors 2 signaling (responsible for foreign substance recognition), allowing for immune system Immune system The body’s defense mechanism against foreign organisms or substances and deviant native cells. It includes the humoral immune response and the cell-mediated response and consists of a complex of interrelated cellular, molecular, and genetic components. Primary Lymphatic Organs evasion
    • Aggregates and creates a biofilm Biofilm Encrustations formed from microbes (bacteria, algae, fungi, plankton, or protozoa) embedded in an extracellular polymeric substance matrix that is secreted by the microbes. They occur on body surfaces such as teeth (dental deposits); inanimate objects, and bodies of water. Biofilms are prevented from forming by treating surfaces with dentifrices; disinfectants; anti-infective agents; and anti-fouling agents. Staphylococcus, making it difficult for antibiotics to reach the bacteria Bacteria Bacteria are prokaryotic single-celled microorganisms that are metabolically active and divide by binary fission. Some of these organisms play a significant role in the pathogenesis of diseases. Bacteriology

Associated Diseases

M. catarrhalis

  • Tracheobronchitis and pneumonia Pneumonia Pneumonia or pulmonary inflammation is an acute or chronic inflammation of lung tissue. Causes include infection with bacteria, viruses, or fungi. In more rare cases, pneumonia can also be caused through toxic triggers through inhalation of toxic substances, immunological processes, or in the course of radiotherapy. Pneumonia:
    • Noted in susceptible individuals, most commonly manifesting as acute COPD COPD Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a lung disease characterized by progressive, largely irreversible airflow obstruction. The condition usually presents in middle-aged or elderly persons with a history of cigarette smoking. Signs and symptoms include prolonged expiration, wheezing, diminished breath sounds, progressive dyspnea, and chronic cough. Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) exacerbations
    • M. catarrhalis causes 10%–20% of COPD COPD Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a lung disease characterized by progressive, largely irreversible airflow obstruction. The condition usually presents in middle-aged or elderly persons with a history of cigarette smoking. Signs and symptoms include prolonged expiration, wheezing, diminished breath sounds, progressive dyspnea, and chronic cough. Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) exacerbations.
  • Otitis media: M. catarrhalis causes 15%–20% of cases of otitis media in children.  
  • Uncommon cause of acute bacterial sinusitis Sinusitis Sinusitis refers to inflammation of the mucosal lining of the paranasal sinuses. The condition usually occurs concurrently with inflammation of the nasal mucosa (rhinitis), a condition known as rhinosinusitis. Acute sinusitis is due to an upper respiratory infection caused by a viral, bacterial, or fungal agent. Sinusitis

M. lacunata

M. lacunata is a common cause of chronic angular blepharoconjunctivitis in humans.

Diagnosis

  • Clinical features of the diseases are often sufficient in arriving at the diagnosis.
  • Microbiologic studies are often reserved for recurrent, severe conditions or for cases in which therapy has failed.
  • Other tests are determined by clinical presentation (chest X-ray X-ray Penetrating electromagnetic radiation emitted when the inner orbital electrons of an atom are excited and release radiant energy. X-ray wavelengths range from 1 pm to 10 nm. Hard x-rays are the higher energy, shorter wavelength x-rays. Soft x-rays or grenz rays are less energetic and longer in wavelength. The short wavelength end of the x-ray spectrum overlaps the gamma rays wavelength range. The distinction between gamma rays and x-rays is based on their radiation source. Pulmonary Function Tests for suspected pneumonia Pneumonia Pneumonia or pulmonary inflammation is an acute or chronic inflammation of lung tissue. Causes include infection with bacteria, viruses, or fungi. In more rare cases, pneumonia can also be caused through toxic triggers through inhalation of toxic substances, immunological processes, or in the course of radiotherapy. Pneumonia).

Treatment

  • Moraxella: > 90% produce β-lactamase and thus are resistant to penicillin Penicillin Rheumatic Fever, ampicillin Ampicillin Semi-synthetic derivative of penicillin that functions as an orally active broad-spectrum antibiotic. Penicillins, and amoxicillin Amoxicillin A broad-spectrum semisynthetic antibiotic similar to ampicillin except that its resistance to gastric acid permits higher serum levels with oral administration. Penicillins.
  • Susceptible to amoxicillin Amoxicillin A broad-spectrum semisynthetic antibiotic similar to ampicillin except that its resistance to gastric acid permits higher serum levels with oral administration. Penicillins–clavulanate, macrolides Macrolides Macrolides and ketolides are antibiotics that inhibit bacterial protein synthesis by binding to the 50S ribosomal subunit and blocking transpeptidation. These antibiotics have a broad spectrum of antimicrobial activity but are best known for their coverage of atypical microorganisms. Macrolides and Ketolides, extended-spectrum cephalosporins Cephalosporins Cephalosporins are a group of bactericidal beta-lactam antibiotics (similar to penicillins) that exert their effects by preventing bacteria from producing their cell walls, ultimately leading to cell death. Cephalosporins are categorized by generation and all drug names begin with “cef-” or “ceph-.” Cephalosporins, tetracyclines Tetracyclines Tetracyclines are a class of broad-spectrum antibiotics indicated for a wide variety of bacterial infections. These medications bind the 30S ribosomal subunit to inhibit protein synthesis of bacteria. Tetracyclines cover gram-positive and gram-negative organisms, as well as atypical bacteria such as chlamydia, mycoplasma, spirochetes, and even protozoa. Tetracyclines, fluoroquinolones Fluoroquinolones Fluoroquinolones are a group of broad-spectrum, bactericidal antibiotics inhibiting bacterial DNA replication. Fluoroquinolones cover gram-negative, anaerobic, and atypical organisms, as well as some gram-positive and multidrug-resistant (MDR) organisms. Fluoroquinolones
Community-acquired moraxella catarrhalis

Pneumonia Pneumonia Pneumonia or pulmonary inflammation is an acute or chronic inflammation of lung tissue. Causes include infection with bacteria, viruses, or fungi. In more rare cases, pneumonia can also be caused through toxic triggers through inhalation of toxic substances, immunological processes, or in the course of radiotherapy. Pneumonia secondary to Moraxella catarrhalis:
Chest X-ray X-ray Penetrating electromagnetic radiation emitted when the inner orbital electrons of an atom are excited and release radiant energy. X-ray wavelengths range from 1 pm to 10 nm. Hard x-rays are the higher energy, shorter wavelength x-rays. Soft x-rays or grenz rays are less energetic and longer in wavelength. The short wavelength end of the x-ray spectrum overlaps the gamma rays wavelength range. The distinction between gamma rays and x-rays is based on their radiation source. Pulmonary Function Tests shows a left lower lobe infiltrate secondary to Moraxella catarrhalis, a gram-negative diplococcus that can be an etiologic agent for lung infections Infections Invasion of the host organism by microorganisms or their toxins or by parasites that can cause pathological conditions or diseases. Chronic Granulomatous Disease in immunocompromised immunocompromised A human or animal whose immunologic mechanism is deficient because of an immunodeficiency disorder or other disease or as the result of the administration of immunosuppressive drugs or radiation. Gastroenteritis patients Patients Individuals participating in the health care system for the purpose of receiving therapeutic, diagnostic, or preventive procedures. Clinician–Patient Relationship and in those with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a lung disease characterized by progressive, largely irreversible airflow obstruction. The condition usually presents in middle-aged or elderly persons with a history of cigarette smoking. Signs and symptoms include prolonged expiration, wheezing, diminished breath sounds, progressive dyspnea, and chronic cough. Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) ( COPD COPD Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a lung disease characterized by progressive, largely irreversible airflow obstruction. The condition usually presents in middle-aged or elderly persons with a history of cigarette smoking. Signs and symptoms include prolonged expiration, wheezing, diminished breath sounds, progressive dyspnea, and chronic cough. Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)).

Image: “Chest X-ray X-ray Penetrating electromagnetic radiation emitted when the inner orbital electrons of an atom are excited and release radiant energy. X-ray wavelengths range from 1 pm to 10 nm. Hard x-rays are the higher energy, shorter wavelength x-rays. Soft x-rays or grenz rays are less energetic and longer in wavelength. The short wavelength end of the x-ray spectrum overlaps the gamma rays wavelength range. The distinction between gamma rays and x-rays is based on their radiation source. Pulmonary Function Tests on admission” by Hospital Universitario Central de Asturias (HUCA), Instituto Nacional de Silicosis Silicosis A form of pneumoconiosis resulting from inhalation of dust containing crystalline form of silicon dioxide, usually in the form of quartz. Amorphous silica is relatively nontoxic. Pneumoconiosis (INS), Área del Pulmón, Facultad de Medicina, Universidad de Oviedo, 33005 Oviedo, Spain. License: CC BY 4.0

References

  1. Aebi, C. (2011). Moraxella catarrhalis—pathogen or commensal? Adv Exp Med Biol 697:107–116.
  2. Goldstein, E. J. C., Murphy T. F. (2009). Moraxella catarrhalis: a human respiratory tract pathogen. Clin Infect Dis 000:000–000. https://academic.oup.com/cid/article/49/1/124/371116
  3. Heiniger, N., Troller, R., Meier, P.Ss, Aebi, C. (2005). Cold shock response of the UspA1 outer membrane adhesin of Moraxella catarrhalis. Infect Immun 000:000–000. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16299321/
  4. Murphy, T. F., File, T. M. (2019). Moraxella catarrhalis infections. UpToDate. Retrieved 23 April 2021, from https://www.uptodate.com/contents/moraxella-catarrhalis-infections
  5. Pelton, S., Tahtinen, P., Kaplan, S.L., Isaacson, G.C. (2020). Acute otitis media in children: dpidemiology, microbiology, and complications. UpToDate. Retrieved 23 April 2021, from https://www.uptodate.com/contents/acute-otitis-media-in-children-epidemiology-microbiology-and-complications

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