Inhibition of staphylothrombin by dabigatran reduces Staphylococcus aureus virulence


Thomas Vanassche, Center for Molecular and Vascular Biology (CMVB), University of Leuven, O&N1 – 9th Floor, Herestraat 49, B-3000 Leuven, Belgium.
Tel.: +32 16 34 57 75; fax: +32 16 34 59 90.


Summary. Background: Staphylocoagulase and von Willebrand binding protein (VWbp) bind to prothrombin to form the staphylothrombin complex that converts fibrinogen into fibrin. Objectives: To study the role of staphylothrombin and its inhibition by dabigatran on Staphylococcus aureus virulence. Methods: We studied the effect of staphylothrombin inhibition on bacterial attachment to polystyrene surfaces, leukocyte activation and bactericidal activity for S. aureus ATCC 25923, S. aureus Newman, and staphylocoagulase- and VWbp-negative S. aureus Newman mutants in the presence or absence of prothrombin and fibrinogen. We measured the abscess size after subcutaneous (s.c.) injection of S. aureus ATCC 25923 and S. aureus Newman, as well as an S. aureus Newman mutant strain lacking staphylocoagulase and VWbp, in mice treated with either dabigatran or placebo. Results: Staphylothrombin-mediated fibrin increased the association of S. aureus to polystyrene surfaces and reduced the bactericidal activity of leukocytes. The absence or inhibition of staphylothrombin decreased the bacterial association, enhanced leukocyte activation and reduced bacterial survival in vitro. Abscess size was smaller in mice treated with dabigatran or infected with a coagulase-negative mutant. Conclusion: Inhibition or the absence of staphylothrombin reduced S. aureus virulence in in vitro and in vivo models.