Mycoplasmataceae is the familial superorder of the bacterial genus Mycoplasma and Ureaplasma. It is a series of bacterial species that stand out due to a missing cell wall and a pleomorphic form.

What are Mycoplasmataceae?

The family Mycoplasmataceae belongs to the class Mollicutes and the order of Mycoplasmatales. Mycoplasmataceae is the only family of the order Mycoplasmatales and encloses the bacterial genera Mycoplasma and Ureaplasma.

Misunderstandings and definition errors often occur through the use of the generic term "Mycoplasma" for the class of Mollicutes. Should be the class of mycoplasma, the class of the Mollicutes is called and not the genus of Mycoplasma.

The Mollicutes, Mycoplasmatales and Mycoplasmataceae genus define a number of bacterial species characterized by a missing cell wall and a pleomorphic form.

Mycoplasmas or mollicutes have no flagella or other means of autonomous locomotion due to the lack of cell wall. They depend on the amino acids and nucleic acids of other cells and can survive only through parasitism.

The names "Mollicutes", ie "the soft-skins" and "Mycoplasma", ie "similar to the shape of fungal threads", already point to the cell-wall-less form and the pleomorphic properties.

Bacteria of the family Mycoplasmataceae have a size of 200-300 nanometers and are gram-negative due to the missing cell wall. They play a role as laboratory contaminants due to their small size. Since sterile filters are only produced serially up to a pore density of 220 nanometers, contamination by microorganisms of the family Mycoplasmataceae is difficult to prevent.

The first Mycoplasmataceae were isolated in 1898 from cattle suffering from a lung disease. In human medicine, the first pathogens were not isolated until 1937 in patients with nonspecific urinary tract infections and referred to as Mycoplasma hominis.

Mycoplasma pneumoniae was isolated as a causative agent of atypical infection in the 1940s. The classification of the various species in the family of Mycoplasmataceae was made in 1955 by EA Freundt.

Occurrence, distribution & characteristics

Since mycoplasma and ureaplasmas have no flagella or other forms of autonomous locomotion, they depend on the transmission of body secretions and settle primarily in the genitourinary tract and in the lungs. In women, the ureaplasma urealyticum can settle unnoticed in the normal urogenital flora.

Mycoplasmataceae are parasitic either intracellularly or extracellularly and thereby trigger a number of inflammatory processes, some of which can have serious consequences. Mycoplasma and ureaplasmas are considered pathogens because of their parasitic lifestyle and associated diseases. You are responsible for numerous inflammatory diseases in veterinary and human medicine.

Diseases & complaints

Particularly noteworthy in human medicine are the species Mycoplasma pneumoniae, Mycoplasma genitalium and Ureaplasma urealyticum. Mycoplasma pneumoniae can cause numerous diseases of the respiratory and nervous systems. Mycoplasma is known to be the cause of atypical pneumonia. It may also be responsible for the tracheobronchitis, ie the inflammation of the bronchial tubes in both acute and chronic manifestation and pharyngitis, ie the inflammation of the pharynx.

The pathogen in the central nervous system can cause serious illnesses. Meningitis or meningitis can lead to lethal consequences or lifelong harm without timely treatment. Sequelae such as epilepsy, deafness and cognitive disorders are common after meningitis.

Mycoplasma genitalium can trigger non-gonoccoccal urethritis. Non-gonococcal urethritis is a urethritis that has not been triggered by gonococci. Micturition by Mycoplasma genitalium may spread to various parts of the pelvis in the woman, resulting in infertility if left untreated. Other subsequent and serious conditions, such as ovarian cancer, are being observed, but to date they can not be directly linked to the infection.

The Ureaplamsa urealyticum settles in the lower genital tract of the woman and can also occur in the normal Urogenitalflora. Ureaplasma urealyticum can cause serious infectious diseases in newborns. During pregnancy and at birth, the ureaplasma can infect the embryo or infant. Premature infection by the mother can cause pneumonia and neonatal sepsis in the infant.

In neonatal sepsis, the infant is born with an ongoing infection that spreads to the bloodstream. About 5% of the worldwide deaths of children under 5 are due to neonatal sepsis.

By taking antibiotics a problem-free healing of various diseases can be guaranteed until now. Very important is the exact identification of the pathogen by smears, antibody measurements and PCRs. Since antibiotics of the penicillin group attach to the cell wall of the bacteria and mollicutes do not have a cell wall, pathogens of the Mollicutes group here have a natural resistance. Observations, in which the administration of penicillin even led to the persistence of cell-wall-free germs, are present.

Antibiotics from the group of macrolides are generally recommended, since these begin in the gut inside in protein biosynthesis and prevent further replication of the germ. A treatment with azithromycin or erythromycin is very promising for the proper convalescence of the patient.

In no case antibiotics should be prescribed from pure suspicion, but for the time being a clarification taking into account laboratory medical findings take place in order to prevent a persistence of the pathogen and the development of resistance in other germs.

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