A strain of Streptococcus sanguis that induced rabbit platelets to aggregate in vitro (Agg+ phenotype) was hypothesized to be a more virulent pathogen than an Agg- strain in experimental endocarditis in rabbits. A left ventricular catheter was implanted, and then an Agg+ or Agg- strain was inoculated intravenously. Vegetations formed on the aortic semilunar valves but were unaffected by the duration of implantation of the catheter. Vegetations enlarged by accumulating platelets and their mass increased directly with the duration of endocarditis. Inoculation of the Agg+ strain consistently caused endocarditis with significantly larger vegetations, a more severe clinical course (including febrile episodes, hematological changes, and signs of myocardial ischemia), more gross lesions in major organs, and greater mortality than inoculation with the Agg- strain, saline, or the Agg+ strain pretreated with monospecific rabbit immunoglobulin G or Fab fragments against its platelet aggregation-associated protein (PAAP; class II). In experimental endocarditis, PAAP expressed by Agg+ S. sanguis appeared to be an important virulence factor
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