The two methods used to detect intestinal Escherichia coli in patients with ulcerative colitis, HeLa cell and buccal epithelial cell (BEC) adhesion assays, were compared. Both methods showed a significant difference between the adhesive property of colitic and control E coli: p less than 0.0002 and p less than 0.01 for the buccal epithelial cell and HeLa cell methods, respectively. HeLa cells did not detect all BEC positive isolates which were quantitatively more adhesive than any control isolate. All BEC negative isolates were HeLa cell negative. The BEC technique seems to be more sensitive for detecting adhesive E coli in ulcerative colitis because the true incidence of adhesive E coli in ulcerative colitis was higher than that determined by the HeLa cell method.
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