Biofilms in cystic fibrosis

extracellular matrix sheds light on chronic lung infections

Andrea Rinaldi(
Jun 9, 2003

Patients with cystic fibrosis (CF), the most common inherited lethal genetic disorder in Caucasian populations, are prone to severe lung infections by the opportunistic pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa—a leading cause of morbidity and mortality in these individuals. Chronic CF infections are characterized by the conversion of P. aeruginosa to a mucoid phenotype (resulting in the overproduction of the exopolysaccharide alginate) and by the formation of differentiated, highly antibiotic-resistant communities of surface-attached bacteria, or biofilms. These biofilms are formed from an extracellular matrix of which exopolysaccharides are one component, but the relationship between the production of alginate and biofilm formation has remained unclear. In the June 9 Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Daniel Wozniak and colleagues at Northwestern University report new evidence that may help refine the therapeutic strategies for treating chronic P. aeruginosa infections in CF patients (PNAS, DOI:10.1073/pnas.1231792100, June 9, 2003).

Wozniak et...