Nontypeable Hemophilus influenzae (NTHi) is a Gram-negative bacterial pathogen that causes chronic biofilm infections of the ears and airways. The biofilm matrix provides structural integrity to the biofilm and protects biofilm cells from antibiotic exposure by reducing penetration of antimicrobial compounds into the biofilm. Extracellular DNA (eDNA) has been found to be a major matrix component of biofilms formed by many species of Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria, including NTHi. Interestingly, the cation chelator ethylenediaminetetra-acetic acid (EDTA) has been shown to reduce the matrix strength of biofilms of several bacterial species as well as to have bactericidal activity against various pathogens. EDTA exerts its antimicrobial activity by chelating divalent cations necessary for growth and membrane stability and by destabilizing the matrix thus enhancing the detachment of bacterial cells from the biofilm. In this study, we have explored the role of divalent cations in NTHi biofilm development and stability. We have utilized in vitro static and continuous flow models of biofilm development by NTHi to demonstrate that magnesium cations enhance biofilm formation by NTHi. We found that the divalent cation chelator EDTA is effective at both preventing NTHi biofilm formation and at treating established NTHi biofilms. Furthermore, we found that the matrix destablilizers EDTA and DNaseI increase the susceptibility of NTHi biofilms to ampicillin and ciprofloxacin. Our observations indicate that DNaseI and EDTA enhance the efficacy of antibiotic treatment of NTHi biofilms. These observations may lead to new strategies that will improve the treatment options available to patients with chronic NTHi infections.
Cavaliere, R., Ball, J. L., Turnbull, L., & Whitchurch, C. B. (2014). The biofilm matrix destabilizers, EDTA and DNaseI, enhance the susceptibility of nontypeable Hemophilus influenzae biofilms to treatment with ampicillin and ciprofloxacin. MicrobiologyOpen, 3(4), 557 - 567. https://doi.org/10.1002/mbo3.187