Diagnosis of biofilm infections in cystic fibrosis patients
Chronic Pseudomonas aeruginosa biofilm lung infection in cystic fibrosis patients is the best described biofilm infection in medicine. The initial focus can be the paranasal sinuses and then follows repeated colonization and infection of the lungs by aspiration. The matrix of the biofilms is dominated by alginate and the pathogenesis of tissue damage is immune complex‐mediated chronic inflammation dominated by polymorphonuclear leukocytes and their products (DNA, oxygen radicals and proteases). The P. aeruginosa biofilm infection can be diagnosed by microscopy of lung tissue, sputum and mucus from the paranasal sinuses, where aggregates of the bacteria are found surrounded by the abundant alginate matrix. Specific PNA‐FISH probes can be used to identify P. aeruginosa and other pathogens in situ in the biofilms. Growth of mucoid colonies from the locations mentioned above is also diagnostic for biofilm infection. Rise of specific anti‐P. aeruginosa antibodies is likewise diagnostic, IgG in serum in case of lung infection, sIgA in saliva or nasal secretions in case of paranasal sinus infection. Similar approaches have been developed to diagnose chronic biofilm infections in cystic fibrosis caused by other pathogens e.g., Stenotrophomonas, Burkholderia multivorans, Achromobacter xylosoxidans and Mycobacterium abscessus complex.
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