Pseudomonas aeruginosa biofilms in cystic fibrosis
Research output: Contribution to journal › Review › Research › peer-review
The persistence of chronic Pseudomonas aeruginosa lung infections in cystic fibrosis (CF) patients is due to biofilm-growing mucoid (alginate-producing) strains. A biofilm is a structured consortium of bacteria, embedded in a self-produced polymer matrix consisting of polysaccharide, protein and DNA. In CF lungs, the polysaccharide alginate is the major part of the P. aeruginosa biofilm matrix. Bacterial biofilms cause chronic infections because they show increased tolerance to antibiotics and resist phagocytosis, as well as other components of the innate and the adaptive immune system. As a consequence, a pronounced antibody response develops, leading to immune complex-mediated chronic inflammation, dominated by polymorphonuclear leukocytes. The chronic inflammation is the major cause of the lung tissue damage in CF. Biofilm growth in CF lungs is associated with an increased frequency of mutations, slow growth and adaptation of the bacteria to the conditions in the lungs, and to antibiotic therapy. Low bacterial metabolic activity and increase of doubling times of the bacterial cells in CF lungs are responsible for some of the tolerance to antibiotics. Conventional resistance mechanisms, such as chromosomal ß-lactamase, upregulated efflux pumps, and mutations of antibiotic target molecules in the bacteria, also contribute to the survival of P. aeruginosa biofilms. Biofilms can be prevented by early aggressive antibiotic prophylaxis or therapy, and they can be treated by chronic suppressive therapy.