Biofilm infections, their resilience to therapy and innovative treatment strategies


Correspondence: Ute Römling, Department of Microbiology, Tumor and Cell Biology, Karolinska Institutet, Nobels väg 16, FE 280, SE-171 77 Stockholm, Sweden.

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Biofilm formation of microorganisms causes persistent tissue and foreign body infections resistant to treatment with antimicrobial agents. Up to 80% of human bacterial infections are biofilm associated; such infections are most frequently caused by Staphylococcus epidermidis, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Staphylococcus aureus and Enterobacteria such as Escherichia coli. The accurate diagnosis of biofilm infections is often difficult, which prevents the appropriate choice of treatment. As biofilm infections significantly contribute to patient morbidity and substantial healthcare costs, novel strategies to treat these infections are urgently required. Nucleotide second messengers, c-di-GMP, (p)ppGpp and potentially c-di-AMP, are major regulators of biofilm formation and associated antibiotic tolerance. Consequently, different components of these signalling networks might be appropriate targets for antibiofilm therapy in combination with antibiotic treatment strategies. In addition, cyclic di-nucleotides are microbial-associated molecular patterns with an almost universal presence. Their conserved structures sensed by the eukaryotic host have a widespread effect on the immune system. Thus, cyclic di-nucleotides are also potential immunotherapeutic agents to treat antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections.