Neisseria gonorrhoeae vs. Neisseria meningitides

Last updated on June 11th, 2021

Neisseria gonorrhoeae and Neisseria meningitides are Gram negative diplococci (kidney bean-shaped) with flattened sides.  They are characteristically found inside polymorphonuclear leucocytes. They are non-sporing, non-motile and oxidase positive.

They have exacting growth requirements and do not grow on ordinary media. Growth occurs on media enriched with blood or serum like Chocolate Agar, Thayer Martin Agar and Modified New York City Medium.

Some of the notable differences between them are:

Characteristics Neisseria gonorrhoeae (Gonococci)Neisseria meningitides (Meningococci)
CapsuleNo polysaccharide capsuleYes (has a prominent polysaccharide capsule; and is divided in to 13 serologic groups on the basis of capsular antigens)
PiliYes (one of the most important virulence factor; nonpiliated strains are avirulent)Yes
Portal of EntryGenitalRespiratory
  • Male: urethritis, proctitis
  • Female: endocervicitis, PID (contiguous spread), arthritis, proctitis
  • Infants: ophthalmia  neonatorum
  • Otitis media
  • Sinusitis
  • Bronchitis and bronchopneumonia in elderly patients with COPD
 Meningitis and meningococcemia
Glucose FermentationYesYes
Maltose Fermentation*NoYes
β-Lactamase ProductionCommonRare (Penicillin G is the treatment of choice for meningococcal infection)
Vaccine availableNoYes (conjugate vaccine and unconjugate vaccine is available)

*  The differentiation between Neisseria meningitidis and Neisseria gonorrhoeae is made on the basis of sugar fermentation: meningococi ferment maltose  (MM), whereas gonococci do not. 

About Acharya Tankeshwar 476 Articles
Hello, thank you for visiting my blog. I am Tankeshwar Acharya. Blogging is my passion. I am working as an Asst. Professor and Microbiologist at Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Patan Academy of Health Sciences, Nepal. If you want me to write about any posts that you found confusing/difficult, please mention in the comments below.

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