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Mycoplasma pneumoniae is a very small bacterium, in the class Mollicutes. This class of organisms lack a peptidoglycan cell wall present on all other firmicute bacteria. Instead, it has a three layer cell membrane which incorporates cholesterol compounds, similar to eukaryotic cells. Lacking a cell wall, these organisms are resistant to the effects of penicillins and other beta-lactam antibiotics, which act by disrupting the bacterial cell wall.
M. pneumoniae has one of the smallest genomes known, with 816 kilobase pairs (kbs). Its genome and proteome has been fully characterized. It uses some unique genetic code, making its code more similar to mitochondria than to other bacteria. It lacks the cellular machinery for making many essential compounds. Because of this, it is an obligate parasite. No mycoplasma is found free-living. In this respect, mycoplasma is more similar to viruses than to bacteria.
M. pneumoniae is spread through respiratory droplet transmission. Once attached to the mucosa of a host organism, M. pneumonia extracts nutrients, grows and reproduces by binary fission. Attachment sites include the upper and lower respiratory tract, causing pharyngitis, bronchitis and pneumonia. The infection caused by this bacterium is called atypical pneumonia because of its protracted course and lack of sputum production and wealth of extra-pulmonary symptoms. Chronic mycoplasma infections have been implicated in the pathogenesis of rheumatoid arthritis and other rheumatological diseases.
Second generation macrolide antibiotics and second generation quinolones are effective treatments. Disease from mycoplasma is usually mild to moderate in severity.
Posted by Staff at May 13, 2005 6:11 AMblog comments powered by Disqus