Pharyngeal Colonization by Kingella kingae, Transmission, and Pathogenesis of Invasive Infections: A Narrative Review

Pablo Yagupsky

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


With the appreciation of Kingella kingae as a prime etiology of osteoarticular infections in young children, there is an increasing interest in the pathogenesis of these diseases. The medical literature on K. kingae’s colonization and carriage was thoroughly reviewed. Kingella kingae colonizes the oropharynx after the second life semester, and its prevalence reaches 10% between the ages of 12 and 24 months, declining thereafter as children reach immunological maturity. Kingella kingae colonization is characterized by the periodic substitution of carried organisms by new strains. Whereas some strains frequently colonize asymptomatic children but are rarely isolated from dis-eased individuals, others are responsible for most invasive infections worldwide, indicating enhanced virulence. The colonized oropharyngeal mucosa is the source of child-to-child transmission, and daycare attendance is associated with a high carriage rate and increased risk of invasive dis-ease. Kingella kingae elaborates a potent repeat-in-toxin (RTXA) that lyses epithelial, phagocytic, and synovial cells. This toxin breaches the epithelial barrier, facilitating bloodstream invasion and survival and the colonization of deep body tissues. Kingella kingae colonization and carriage play a crucial role in the person-to-person transmission of the bacterium, its dissemination in the community, and the pathogenesis of invasive infections.

Original languageEnglish
Article number637
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • Carriage
  • Children
  • Colonization
  • Invasive disease
  • Kingella kingae
  • Pili
  • Transmission

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Virology


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