The origin of extracellular DNA in bacterial biofilm infections in vivo


Maria Alhede, Morten Alhede, Klaus Qvortrup, Kasper Norskov Kragh, Peter Ostrup Jensen, Philip Shook Stewart, Thomas Bjarnsholt


Pathogens and Disease


Extracellular DNA (eDNA) plays an important role in both the aggregation of bacteria and in the interaction of the resulting biofilms with polymorphonuclear leukocytes (PMNs) during an inflammatory response. Here, transmission electron and confocal scanning laser microscopy were used to examine the interaction between biofilms of Pseudomonas aeruginosa and PMNs in a murine implant model and in lung tissue from chronically infected cystic fibrosis patients. PNA FISH, DNA staining, labeling of PMN DNA with a thymidine analogue, and immunohistochemistry were applied to localize bacteria, eDNA, PMN-derived eDNA, PMN-derived histone H3 (H3), neutrophil elastase (NE), and citrullinated H3 (citH3). Host-derived eDNA was observed surrounding bacterial biofilms but not within the biofilms. H3 localized to the lining of biofilms while NE was found throughout biofilms. CitH3, a marker for neutrophil extracellular traps (NETs) was detected only sporadically indicating that most host-derived eDNA in vivo was not a result of NETosis. Together these observations show that, in these in vivo biofilm infections with P. aeruginosa, the majority of eDNA is found external to the biofilm and derives from the host.



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