AMC Publications

Combining biofilm matrix measurements with biomass and viability assays in susceptibility assessments of antimicrobials against Staphylococcus aureus biofilms.

Despite that three types of assays (measuring biofilm viability, biomass, or matrix) are described to assess anti-biofilm activity, they are rarely used together. As infections can easily reappear if the matrix is not affected after antibiotic treatments, our goal was to explore the simultaneous effects of antibiotics on the viability, biomass and matrix of Staphylococcus aureus biofilms (ATCC 25923). Viability and biomass were quantified using resazurin and crystal violet staining sequentially in the same plate, while matrix staining was conducted with a wheat germ agglutinin-Alexa Fluor 488 fluorescent conjugate. Establishment of the detection limits and linearity ranges allowed concluding that all three methods were able to estimate biofilm formation in a similar fashion. In a susceptibility study with 18-h biofilms, two model compounds (penicillin G and ciprofloxacin) caused a reduction on the viability and biomass accompanied by an increase or not changed levels of the matrix, respectively. This response pattern was also proven for S. aureus Newman, S. epidermidis and E. coli biofilms. A classification of antibiotics based on five categories according to their effects on viability and matrix has been proposed earlier. Our data suggests a sixth group, represented by penicillin, causing decrease in bacterial viability but showing stimulatory effects on the matrix. Further, if effects on the matrix are not taken into account, the long-term chemotherapeutic effect of antibiotics can be jeopardized in spite of the positive effects on biofilms viability and biomass. Thus, measuring all these three endpoints simultaneously provide a more complete and accurate picture.

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