What is Enterococcus fecalis

Enterococcus faecalis

old name: Streptococcus faecalis

1 definition

Enterococcus faecalis is a gram-positive chain cocci bacterium and belongs to the enterococcal genus.

It is closely related to the streptococci and, like them, has the D-polysaccharide in its wall. In contrast to the streptococci, however, enterococci do not have any beta-hemolytic properties.

2 clinical pictures

Enterococcus faecalis is an important causative agent of urinary tract infections and nosocomial infections such as sepsis and peritonitis after operations on the intestine. Endocarditis due to Enterococcus faecalis has also been reported less frequently.

90% of these clinical pictures are caused by Enterococcus faecalis. In 10% of the cases, Enterococcus faecium, from the same genus, can be held responsible for the clinical picture.

3 properties

Important properties of Enterococcus faecalis are summarized below.

3.1 Structure

Enterococcus faecalis shows the typical wall structure of the streptococci consisting of a multilayered peptidoglycan layer (murein).

It has a lipoteichoic acid (LTS) as a so-called Lancefield antigen (group D).

3.2 Virulence

Enterococcus faecalis secretes several enzymes: gelatinase, hyaluronidase and cytolysin A, which play an important role in invasion, establishment and cell damage.

Furthermore, the bacterium can come up with aggregation substances which act as receptors for, for example, host cell integrins.

3.3 Occurrence and resistance

Enterococcus faecalis form part of the physiological intestinal flora of humans. In the intestine, they can survive due to their resistance (insensitive to bile, high pH and hydrochloric acid).

Only when they can escape from the intestine do they cause symptoms as so-called facultative pathogenic germs.