The production of fibrinous exudates may play an important role in determining the outcome of bacterial infection. Although pseudomembrane formation is a characteristic feature of diphtheria, little is known about the fibrinogen (Fbn)-binding properties of Corynebacterium diphtheriae
strains and the influence of the gene that codes for diphtheria toxin (tox
gene) in this process. In this study we demonstrated the ability of C. diphtheriae
strains to bind to Fbn and to convert Fbn to fibrin. Bacterial interaction with rabbit plasma was evaluated by both slide and tube tests. Interaction of microorganisms with human Fbn was evaluated by both enzyme linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) and fluorescein isothiocyanate-conjugated (FITC) Fbn binding assays. Nontoxigenic and toxigenic strains formed bacterial aggregates in the presence of plasma in the slide tests. The ability to convert Fbn to a loose web of fibrin in the plasma solution in the tube tests appeared to be a common characteristic of the species, including strains that do not carry the tox
gene. Fbn binding to C. diphtheriae
strains occurred at varying intensities, as demonstrated by the FITC-Fbn and ELISA binding assays. Our data suggest that the capacity to bind to Fbn and to convert Fbn to fibrin may play a role in pseudomembrane formation and act as virulence determinants of both nontoxigenic and toxigenic strains.