Fux, C.A., Wilson, S. and Stoodley, P.
Detachment characteristics and oxacillin resistance of Staphyloccocus aureus biofilm emboli in an in vitro catheter infection model.
Journal of Bacteriology, 186, (14), . (doi:10.1128/JB.186.14.4486-4491.2004).
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Catheter-related bloodstream infections due to Staphylococcus aureus are of increasing clinical importance. The pathophysiological steps leading to colonization and infection, however, are still incompletely defined. We observed growth and detachment of S. aureus biofilms in an in vitro catheter-infection model by using time-lapse microscopy. Biofilm emboli were characterized by their size and their susceptibility for oxacillin. Biofilm dispersal was found to be a dynamic process in which clumps of a wide range of diameters detach. Large detached clumps were highly tolerant to oxacillin compared with exponential-phase planktonic cultures. Interestingly, the degree of antibiotic tolerance in stationary-phase planktonic cultures was equal to that in the large clumps. The mechanical disruption of large clumps reduced the minimal bactericidal concentration (MBC) by more than 1,000 times. The MBC for whole biofilm effluent, consisting of particles with an average number of 20 bacteria was 3.5 times higher than the MBC for planktonic cultures. We conclude that the antibiotic resistance of detached biofilm particles depends on the embolus size and could be attributed to nutrient-limited stationary-phase physiology of cells within the clumps. We hypothesize that the detachment of multicellular clumps may explain the high rate of symptomatic metastatic infections seen with S. aureus.
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