The process of microbial translocation was studied using Candida albicans, Escherichia coli, or endotoxin instilled into Thiry-Vella loops of thermally injured guinea pigs and rats. Translocation of C. albicans occurred by direct penetration of enterocytes by a unique process different from classical phagocytosis. Translocation between enterocytes was not observed. Internalization was associated with a disturbance of the plasma membrane and brush border, but most internalized organisms were not surrounded by a plasma membrane. Passage of the candida into the lamina propria appeared to be associated with disruption of the basal membrane with extrusion of cytoplasm of the cell and candida. Organisms in the lamina propria were commonly phagocytized by macrophages but also were found free in lymphatics and blood vessels. Translocation of E. coli and endotoxin also occurred directly through enterocytes rather than between them, but translocated endotoxin diffused through the lamina propria and muscular wall of the bowel wall by passing between rather than through the myocytes. These descriptive phenomena provide new insight into the role of the enterocyte and intestinal immune cells in the translocation process.
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