Its presence on inert materials (such as metal hardware implanted for fracture fixation or total joint replacement) make it difficult to eradicate deep infections as the bacteria will 'cling' on to the material via the glycocalyx. It is therefore often necessary to completely remove the hardware device in order to fully eradicate a wound infection.
The glycocalyx can be found just outside the cell wall of a bacterium. A distinct, gelatinous glycocalyx is called a capsule, while an irregular, diffuse layer is called a slime layer. Glycocalyx can help protect bacteria from phagocytes. It also helps in the formation of biofilms such as a coating on inert surfaces such as teeth or rocks.
The glycocalyx is also the name given to a specific structure of a mature platelet. The glycocalyx is unique among the cellular components of the blood. It is similar to the bacterial glycocalyx above in that it is made up of glycoproteins and allows the platelet to adhere to surfaces such as collagen of damaged vessels. The glycocalyx appears as a fluffy coat to the outer membrane of platelets and contains many of the receptor proteins that allow cell adhesion. Glycocalyx also appears on the cells lining blood vessels (endothelial cells). Among its established roles are reducing friction to the flow of blood and serving as a barrier for loss of fluid through the vessel wall. In times of inflammation, the endothelial cell glycocalyx is sheared off, to permit attachment of leukocytes and movement of water from microvessels.
The glycocalyx is chemically unique in everyone but identical in monozygote twins, and acts like an identification tag that enables the body to distinguish its own healthy cells from transplanted tissues, invading organisms and diseased cells. Human blood types and transfusion compatibility are determined by glycolipids and glycoproteins.
A glycocalyx can also be found on the apical portion of microvilli within the digestive tract, especially within the small intestine. It consists of glycoproteins that project from the apical plasma membrane of epithelial absorptive cells. It provides additional surface for adsorption and includes enzymes secreted by the absorptive cells that are essential for the final steps of digestion of proteins and sugars.
Exogenous nitric oxide requires an endothelial glycocalyx to prevent postischemic coronary vascular leak in guinea pig hearts.(Research)
Jun 02, 2008; Authors: Dirk Bruegger (corresponding author) ; Markus Rehm ; Matthias Jacob ; Daniel Chappell ; Mechthild...
Effect of fluid shear stress on endocytosis of heparan sulfate and low-density lipoproteins.(Research Article)(Report)
Jan 01, 2007; Hemodynamic stress is a critical factor in the onset of atherosclerosis such that reduced rates of shear stress occurring at...