In vivo evolution of antimicrobial resistance in a biofilm model of Pseudomonas aeruginosa lung infection

Doaa Higazy, Anh Duc Pham, JG Coen van Hasselt, Niels Høiby, Lars Jelsbak, Claus Moser, Oana Ciofu*

*Corresponding author for this work

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The evolution of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in biofilms has been repeatedly studied by experimental evolution in vitro, but rarely in vivo. The complex microenvironment at the infection site imposes selective pressures on the bacterial biofilms, potentially influencing the development of AMR. We report here the development of AMR in an in vivo mouse model of Pseudomonas aeruginosa biofilm lung infection. P. aeruginosa embedded in seaweed alginate beads underwent four successive lung infection passages with or without ciprofloxacin exposure (CIP). The development of CIP resistance was assessed at each passage by population analysis of the bacterial populations recovered from the lungs of CIP-treated and control mice, with subsequent whole genome sequencing of selected isolates. As inflammation plays a crucial role in shaping the microenvironment at the infection site, its impact was explored through the measurement of cytokine levels in the lung homogenate. A rapid development of AMR was observed starting from the second passage in the CIP-treated mice. Genetic analysis revealed mutations in nfxB, efflux pumps (mexZ), and two-component systems (parS) contribution to CIP resistance. The control group isolates exhibited mutations in the dipA gene, likely associated with biofilm dispersion. In the initial two passages, the CIP-treated group exhibited an elevated inflammatory response compared to the control group. This increase may potentially contribute to the release of mutagenic reactive oxygen species and the development of AMR. In conclusion, this study illustrates the complex relationship between infection, antibiotic treatment, and immune response.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberwrae036
JournalISME Journal
Issue number1
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - 2024


  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa
  • Biofilm
  • In vivo evolution
  • Antimicrobial resistance
  • Inflammatory response


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