Role of biofilm in Staphylococcus aureus and Staphylococcus epidermidis ventricular assist device driveline infections

Faustino A Toba, Hirokazu Akashi, Carlos Arrecubieta, Franklin D Lowy
Journal of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery 2011, 141 (5): 1259-64

OBJECTIVE: Infections, especially those involving drivelines, are among the most serious complications that follow ventricular assist device implantation. Staphylococci are the most common causes of these infections. Once driveline infections are established, they can remain localized or progress as an ascending infection to cause metastatic seeding of other tissue sites. Although elaboration of biofilm appears to be critical in prosthetic device infections, its role as a facilitator of staphylococcal infection and migration along the driveline and other prosthetic devices is unclear.

METHODS: A murine model of driveline infection was used to investigate staphylococcal migration along the driveline. A biofilm-producing strain of Staphylococcus epidermidis and a Staphylococcus aureus strain and its intercellular adhesion gene cluster (ica)-negative (biofilm-deficient) isogenic mutant were used in these studies. Bacterial density on the driveline and the underlying tissue was measured over time. Scanning electron microscopy was used to examine the morphology of S epidermidis biofilm formation as the infection progressed.

RESULTS: The biofilm-deficient S aureus mutant was less effective at infecting and migrating along the driveline than the wild-type strain over time. However, the ica mutation had no effect on the ability of the strain to infect underlying tissue. S aureus exhibited more rapid migration than S epidermidis. Scanning electron microscopy revealed the deposition of host matrix on the Dacron material after implantation. This was followed by elaboration of a bacterial biofilm that correlated with more rapid migration along the driveline.

CONCLUSIONS: Biofilm formation is a critical virulence determinant that facilitates the progression of drivelines infections.

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