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Biofilm growth, antibiotic resistance, and mutator phenotypes are key components of chronic respiratory infections by Pseudomonas aeruginosa in cystic fibrosis patients. We examined the dynamics of mutator and antibiotic-resistant populations in P. aeruginosa flow-cell biofilms, using fluorescently tagged PAO1 and PAOMS (mutator [mutS] derivative) strains. Two-day-old biofilms were treated with ciprofloxacin (CIP) for 4 days (t4) at 2 µg/ml, which correlated with the mutant prevention concentration (MPC) and provided an AUC/MIC ratio of 384 that should predict therapeutic success. Biofilms were monitored by confocal laser scanning microscopy (CLSM), and the numbers of viable cells and resistant mutants (4- and 16-fold MICs) were determined. Despite optimized pharmacokinetic/pharmacodynamic (PK/PD) parameters, CIP treatment did not suppress resistance development in P. aeruginosa biofilms. One-step resistant mutants (MexCD-OprJ or MexEF-OprN overexpression) were selected for both strains, while two-step resistant mutants (additional GyrA or GyrB mutation) were readily selected only from the mutator strain. CLSM analysis of competition experiments revealed that PAOMS, even when inoculated at a 0.01 proportion, took over the whole biofilm after only 2 days of CIP treatment outnumbering PAO1 by 3 log at t4. Our results show that mutational mechanisms play a major role in biofilm antibiotic resistance and that theoretically optimized PK/PD parameters fail to suppress resistance development, suggesting that the increased antibiotic tolerance driven by the special biofilm physiology and architecture may raise the effective MPC, favoring gradual mutational resistance development, especially in mutator strains. Moreover, the amplification of mutator populations under antibiotic treatment by coselection with resistance mutations is for the first time demonstrated in situ for P. aeruginosa biofilms.
Original languageEnglish
JournalAntimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy
Issue number11
Pages (from-to)5230-5237
StatePublished - 2011
CitationsWeb of Science® Times Cited: 32
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ID: 5842271