Hyperencapsulated mucoid pneumococcal isolates from patients with cystic fibrosis have increased biofilm density and persistence in vivo

Academic Article


  • © FEMS 2018. All rights reserved. Mucoid bacteria, predominately Pseudomonas aeruginosa, are commonly associated with decline in pulmonary function in children with cystic fibrosis (CF), and are thought to persist at least in part due to a greater propensity toward forming biofilms. We isolated a higher frequency of mucoid Streptococcus pneumoniae (Sp) expressing high levels of capsular polysaccharides from sputa from children with CF, compared to those without CF. We compared biofilm formation and maturation by mucoid and non-mucoid isolates of Sp collected from children with and without CF. Non-mucoid Sp serotype 19A and 19F isolates had significantly higher levels of biofilm initiation and adherence to CF epithelial cells than did serotype 3 isolates. However, strains expressing high levels of capsule had significantly greater biofilm maturation, as evidenced by increased density and thickness in static and continuous flow assays via confocal microscopy. Finally, using a serotype 3 Sp strain, we showed that highly encapsulated mucoid phase variants predominate during late adherence and better colonize CFTR–/– as compared to wild-type mice in respiratory infection studies. These findings indicate that overexpression of capsule can enhance the development of mature pneumococcal biofilms in vitro, and may contribute to pneumococcal colonization in CF lung disease.
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    Author List

  • Dennis EA; Coats MT; Griffin S; Pang B; Briles DE; Crain MJ; Edward Swords W
  • Volume

  • 76
  • Issue

  • 7