Mycoplasma pneumoniae represents a tiny in its size bacterium that belongs to the class Mollicutes. The organisms adherent to this class have a peculiar feature: they do not have a peptidoglycan cell wall that is common for all other firmicute bacteria. At the same time Mycoplasma pneumoniae possesses a three layer cell membrane that includes cholesterol compounds, resembling eukaryotic cells. Since the organisms do not have a cell wall, they are not prone to the influence of penicillins and other beta-lactam antibiotics that are known for their ability to damage and eliminate the bacterial cell wall.
Mycoplasma pneumoniae is known for having one of the smallest genomes ever existed. Its genome includes only 816 kilobase pairs (kbs). There has been carried out comprehensive description of its genome and proteome. It is known that there is some unique genetic code it employs. This code turns out to have more in common with mitochondria than with other bacteria. There is no cellular machinery that could produce many vital compounds. It means that it represents an obligate parasite. There can be no mycoplasma that is free-living. From this point of view, mycoplasma is closer to viruses than to bacteria.
The spreading of Mycoplasma pneumoniae is carried out in a way of respiratory droplet transmission. When it gets stuck to the mucosa of a host organism, M. pneumonia begins to withdraw nutrients, gets larger and replicates with the help of binary fission. It usually sticks to the mucosa in the upper and lower respiratory tract. This leads to the development of such diseases as pharyngitis, bronchitis and pneumonia.
The type of infection that is brought about by this bacterium is called atypical pneumonia. This is due to the fact that it has a protracted course and does not produce sputum and causes a number of extra-pulmonary symptoms. As far as chronic mycoplasma infections are concerned, they have been linked to the pathogenesis of rheumatoid arthritis and other rheumatological diseases.
As of now, the results of researches conducted all over the world show that the diagnosis of Mycoplasma pneumoniae could be considered to be reliable only when found together with bronchial wall thickening as well as centrilobular nodules in the CT findings. At the same time, these CT findings have not been detected in patients, who suffer from progressed severe pneumonia caused by Mycoplasma pneumoniae.
As effective means of treatment can serve second generation macrolide antibiotics and second generation quinolones. Severity of the disease caused by mycoplasma can range from mild to moderate.