The extensive in vitro cultivation methods used in propagating and maintaining gonococcal cells were found to affect their virulence, antigenicity, and ultrastructure. Adapting a laboratory-maintained strain of gonococci to animal virulence resulted in two lines of pilated cells with similar colonial morphologies. The animal-adapted cells, however, had a greater amount of extracellular pili and a more prominent peptidoglycan cell wall layer. They were also more resistant to the bactericidal effects of guinea-pig complement and more reactive in macroagglutination and bactericidal tests with strain-specific gonococcal antibody. In comparative guinea-pig protection trials, formalin-fixed cells of the animal-adapted cell line were 500 times more effective as immunogens than the laboratory-maintained cell line.
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