a1 (From the Bacteriological Department, Lister Institute.)
The results which were obtained in the foregoing six experiments and are detailed in Tables I to VI may be summarised as follows.
It is seen then that any attempt to classify these two groups of cocci by means of complement-binding reactions would arrange them into more or less well marked sub-groups, some of which would contain both meningococcal and gonococcal strains, and some perhaps strains from only one of these groups.
It will be noticed that extracts of three strains of Meningococcus (119, 162 and 164) showed an especial tendency to give negative or feeble complement-fixation reactions with heterologous meningococcal sera, and two of these strains (119 and 162) also gave negative reactions with some of the gonococcal sera. Though the complement-fixation reactions of the strains used in this research were not fully worked out on account of the difficulty in obtaining satisfactory sera, nevertheless the following classification appears to be indicated having regard to complement-fixation alone.
Sub-group II has affinities for sub-groups I and III, but there is little, if any, affinity shown between I and III directly. M. 119 shows slight affinity for M. 141, but for no other strains.
The sub-groups are not clearly defined, but overlap and are connected with each other in various directions. For instance G. 1, M. 135 and G. 2 all appear to have common receptors, and M. 135 and G. 2 also have receptors in common with G. 4 and M. 162, but G. 1 shows no affinity for these two latter strains.
The explanation of these facts is not quite simple but they may be explained by assuming, (1) that several group antigens occur which are common to the Meningococcus and the Gonococcus, but only some of which are present in any given strain of coccus, and (2) that specific antigens which are peculiar to the Meningococcus on the one hand or to the Gonococcus on the other hand do occur, but are often absent in the case of any given strain.
The second assumption is perhaps unnecessary, and the first is almost equivalent to affirming the occurrence of special antigens peculiar to certain sub-groups which contain strains of both Meningococcus and Gonococcus.
The evidence, then, from complement-fixation experiments as also from other serum tests as far as they are of any value, appears to point to a closer relationship between some strains of Gonococcus and some strains of Meningococcus than between different sub-groups of Meningococcus. In fact rather the unity of these two groups than any essential difference between them, is suggested by these facts.
These considerations lend further support to the view that the most constant bacteriological characters available for differentiating the Meningococcus from the Gonococcus are the cultural characters seen when the organisms are grown on agar of different degrees of alkalinity.