Biofilms are surface-attached agglomerations of microorganisms embedded in an extracellular matrix. Biofilm-associated infections are difficult to eradicate and represent a significant reservoir for disseminating and recurring serious infections. Infections involving biofilms frequently develop on indwelling medical devices in hospitalized patients, and Staphylococcus epidermidis is the leading cause of infection in this setting. However, the molecular determinants of biofilm dissemination are unknown. Here we have demonstrated that specific secreted, surfactant-like S. epidermidis peptides — the β subclass of phenol-soluble modulins (PSMs) — promote S. epidermidis biofilm structuring and detachment in vitro and dissemination from colonized catheters in a mouse model of device-related infection. Our study establishes in vivo significance of biofilm detachment mechanisms for the systemic spread of biofilm-associated infection and identifies the effectors of biofilm maturation and detachment in a premier biofilm-forming pathogen. Furthermore, by demonstrating that antibodies against PSMβ peptides inhibited bacterial spread from indwelling medical devices, we have provided proof of principle that interfering with biofilm detachment mechanisms may prevent dissemination of biofilm-associated infection.
Rong Wang, Burhan A. Khan, Gordon Y. C. Cheung, Thanh-Huy L. Bach, Max Jameson-Lee, Kok-Fai Kong, Shu Y. Queck, Michael Otto
Guidelines: The Editorial Board will only consider letters that we deem relevant and of interest to our readers. We will not post data that have not been subjected to peer review, nor will we post letters that are essentially a reiteration of another letter. All accepted letters will be posted on our website within one week of acceptance. We reserve the right to edit any letter for length, content, and clarity. Authors of all accepted letters will be asked to preview any changes. Authors will be notified by e-mail if their letters were not accepted. As this is a final decision, no appeals will be considered.
Specific requirements: All letters must be 400 words or fewer. You may enter the letter as plain text or HTML. The author's name and e-mail address are required, and will be posted with the letter. All possible conflicts of interest must be noted, even if they are not posted. If you wish to include a figure (keep in mind that non-peer-reviewed data will not be posted), please contact the editors directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.