The pneumonia causing bacteria Streptococcus pneumonae is able to migrate to the heart. There it can cause cell death in the heart tissue. A study published on September 18th in PLOS Pathogens demonstrates that S. Pneumonae can migrate from the lungs to the heart in mice and rhesus macaques.
The bacterium is the main cause for bacterial pneumonia. Bacterial pneumonia is associated with an increased risk of adverse heart events. The cause of the association was unknown. Results show that after migration to the heart, the bacteria causes cell death. This can result in micro lesions, small sites of tissue damage in the heart.
This research was done because test animals (mice and macaques) with pneumonia were observed to have increased troponin levels. De troponin value is a known biomarker for heart problems. Also, their ECGs showed abnormalities.
The results could indicate that the bacterium S. Pneumonae explains the already known association between bacterial pneumonia and heart failure.
The scientists suggest that further research has to be done to observe the frequency of heart failure caused by the bacteria. This could indicate that vaccination programs or antibiotic prescription could be appropriate for certain risk groups.
Source: PLOS Pathogens.