• Burkholderia cepacia;
  • Pseudomonas cepacia;
  • Cystic fibrosis;
  • Lipopolysaccharide;
  • Tumour necrosis factor

Abstract Burkholderia cepacia has emerged as an important multiresistant pathogen in cystic fibrosis (CF), associated in 20% of colonised patients with a rapid and fatal decline in lung function. Although knowledge of B. cepacia epidemiology has improved, the mechanisms involved in pathogenesis remain obscure. In this study, B. cepacia lipopolysaccharide (LPS) was assessed for endotoxic potential and the capacity to induce tumour necrosis factor (TNF). LPS preparations from clinical and environmental isolates of B. cepacia and from the closely related species Burkholderia gladioli exhibited a higher endotoxic activity and more pronounced cytokine response in vitro compared to preparations from the major CF pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa. This study may help to explain the vicious host immune response observed during pulmonary exacerbations in CF patients colonised by B. cepacia and lead to therapeutic advances in clinical management.