"Pseudomonas can use the remnants of dead white blood cells to develop a protective biofilm, which helps the bacteria establish a permanent infection," said National Jewish pulmonologist Jerry Nick, M.D., senior author on the paper. "So, ironically, the very cells sent to fight infection may contribute to our inability to eradicate the Pseudomonas infection in cystic fibrosis patients."
Cystic fibrosis (CF) is a genetic disorder affecting about 30,000 people in the United States, and is the most common genetic disorder among Caucasian people. People with CF produce abnormal mucus that obstructs the airways and leads to chronic lung infections. The disease is fatal, but life expectancy for patients has increased dramatically in recent years, from 14 years in the mid-1980s to 35 years today. National Jewish has one of the largest adult cystic fibrosis clinics in the nation.
Pseudomonas aeruginosa is widespread in the environment and repeatedly infects most CF patients. Aggressive treatment with antibiotics successfully fights most initial infections. Over time, however, P. aeruginosa infections often become permanent; more than 80% of adults with CF are chronically infected with P. aeruginosa. The chronic infection and inflammation associated with P. aeruginosa accelerate damage to the lungs, leading ultimately to respiratory failure and death.
Researchers believe that Pseudomonas establishes a chronic infection in the airway of CF patients by creating a biofilm, a three-dimensional structure c
Contact: William Allstetter
National Jewish Medical and Research Center