In individuals with polymicrobial infections, microbes often display synergistic interactions that can enhance their colonization, virulence, or persistence. One of the most prevalent types of polymicrobial infection occurs in chronic wounds, where Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Staphylococcus aureus are the two most common causes. Although they are the most commonly associated microbial species in wound infections, very little is known about their interspecies relationship. Evidence suggests that P. aeruginosa-S. aureus coinfections are more virulent than monoculture infection with either species; however, difficulties in growing these two pathogens together in vitro have hampered attempts to uncover the mechanisms involved. Here we describe a simple and clinically relevant in vitro wound model that supported concomitant growth of P. aeruginosa and S. aureus. We observed that the ability of P. aeruginosa and S. aureus to survive antibiotic treatment increased when they were grown together in planktonic cocultures and that antibiotic tolerance was further enhanced when they were grown together in the wound model. We attributed this enhanced tolerance to both the "host-derived" and "bacterium-derived" matrix components. Taken together, our data indicate that P. aeruginosa and S. aureus may benefit each other by coinfecting wounds and that the host-derived matrix may serve as important a role as the bacterium-derived matrix in protecting bacteria from some antibiotics.
Chronic wounds including diabetic foot ulcers, pressure ulcers, and venous leg ulcers are a worldwide health problem. As the traditional methods of treatment have proven ineffective against chronic wounds involving biofilms, there is an unmet clinical need for developing products with an antibiofilm component that inhibits and/or disrupts biofilms and thus make the biofilm-embedded bacteria more susceptible to antimicrobial therapy. We developed a DispersinB® antibiofilm enzyme-based wound spray for treating chronic wounds in conjunction with an antimicrobial. Under in vitro conditions, the DispersinB® and Acticoat™ combination performed significantly better (P < 0.05) than Acticoat™ alone, indicating the synergy between the two compounds because of DispersinB® enhancing the antimicrobial activity of Acticoat™. Furthermore, DispersinB® wound spray enhanced the antimicrobial activity of Acticoat™ in a chronic wound mouse model of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infection. Thus, this novel combination of DispersinB® and Acticoat™, an antimicrobial dressing, prompts clinical evaluation for potential applications in biofilm-based chronic wound management.
Diabetes affects 25.8 million people in the United States, or 8.3% of the population, and these numbers are even higher in developing countries. Diabetic patients are more susceptible to the development of chronic wounds with debilitating bacterial infections than nondiabetics. Previously, we compared the ability of the opportunistic pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa to cause biofilm-associated infections in chronic wounds of diabetic and nondiabetic mice (C. Watters, K. DeLeon, U. Trivedi, J. A. Griswold, M. Lyte, K. J. Hampel, M. J. Wargo, and K. P. Rumbaugh, Med. Microbiol. Immunol. 202:131-141, 2013). Unexpectedly, we observed that insulin-treated diabetic mice had significantly more biofilm in their wounds, which correlated with higher antibiotic tolerance. Here, we investigated whether insulin treatment modulates the diabetic immune system to favor P. aeruginosa biofilm formation. Utilizing a murine chronic wound model, we found that DNA protected P. aeruginosa in the wounds of insulin-treated diabetic mice from antibiotic treatment. We also observed increased numbers of neutrophils, reduced numbers of macrophages, and increased cell death in the wounds of diabetic mice on insulin therapy. Taken together, these data suggest that high levels of lysed neutrophils in the wounds of diabetic mice on insulin, combined with fewer macrophages to remove the cellular debris, contribute to increased DNA levels, which enhance P. aeruginosa biofilms.
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