is a well-known human pathogen that mainly causes respiratory disease and is associated with high mortality in compromised hosts. Little is known about the virulence factors and pathogenesis of C. pseudodiphtheriticum
. In this study, cultured human epithelial (HEp-2) cells were used to analyse the adherence pattern, internalisation and intracellular survival of the ATCC 10700 type strain and two additional clinical isolates. These microorganisms exhibited an aggregative adherence-like pattern to HEp-2 cells characterised by clumps of bacteria with a “stacked-brick” appearance. The differences in the ability of these microorganisms to invade and survive within HEp-2 cells and replicate in the extracellular environment up to 24 h post infection were evaluated. The fluorescent actin staining test demonstrated that actin polymerisation is involved in the internalisation of the C. pseudodiphtheriticum
strains. The depolymerisation of microfilaments by cytochalasin E significantly reduced the internalisation of C. pseudodiphtheriticum by HEp-2 cells. Bacterial internalisation and cytoskeletal rearrangement seemed to be partially triggered by the activation of tyrosine kinase activity. Although C. pseudodiphtheriticum
strains did not demonstrate an ability to replicate intracellularly, HEp-2 cells were unable to fully clear the pathogen within 24 h. These characteristics may explain how some C. pseudodiphtheriticum
strains cause severe infection in human patients.