Quantitation of HeLa cell monolayer invasion by Shigella and Salmonella species

D. W. Niesel, C. E. Chambers, S. L. Stockman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


A major determinant in the virulence of Salmonella and Shigella spp. is the ability of these organisms to invade epithelial cells of the gastrointestinal mucosa and multiply intracellularly. The invasion of cell culture monolayers is a convenient experimental system to evaluate eucaryotic cell penetration and is correlated with the potential of a strain to cause human disease. We have developed an agarose-L agar overlay technique which allows for the quantitation of the number of infected tissue culture cells in a monolayer. Bacterial strains were introduced onto antibiotic-free HeLa cell monolayers. Infected monolayers were washed, and noninternalized bacteria were counterselected with kanamycin (50 μg/ml). The number of infected HeLa cells present was determined by overlaying the monolayer with distilled water-agarose (0.5 to 1.5%) followed by an equal volume of 2x L agar. Bacterial colonies formed over infected cells in 24 h at 37°C, and wells were counted with a dissecting microscope under x2 power. Bacterial colonies were not observed with noninvasive variants of Shigella spp. To obtain countable wells (20 to 200 CFU) the multiplicity of infection or invasion times were adjusted. With a 90-min invasion time, the invasive potential of a strain was reflected by the multiplicity of infection needed to produce countable wells. The quantitation of bacterium-invaded cells by using standard bacteriological methods is a convenient and rapid method to evaluae the invasive potential of bacterial strains. Additionally, parameters essential for the invasive process can easily be investigated.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)897-902
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Clinical Microbiology
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1985
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology (medical)


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