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J Med Microbiol. 2003 Apr;52(Pt 4):295-301.

Highly adherent small-colony variants of Pseudomonas aeruginosa in cystic fibrosis lung infection.

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Institute of Medical Microbiology, Hannover Medical School, Carl-Neuberg-Str. 1, Germany.


Pseudomonas aeruginosa, an opportunistic human pathogen and ubiquitous environmental bacterium, is capable of forming specialized bacterial communities, referred to as biofilm. The results of this study demonstrate that the unique environment of the cystic fibrosis (CF) lung seems to select for a subgroup of autoaggregative and hyperpiliated P. aeruginosa small-colony variants (SCVs). These morphotypes showed increased fitness under stationary growth conditions in comparison with clonal wild-types and fast-growing revertants isolated from the SCV population in vitro. In accordance with the SCVs being hyperpiliated, they exhibited increased twitching motility and capacity for biofilm formation. In addition, the SCVs attached strongly to the pneumocytic cell line A549. The emergence of these highly adherent SCVs within the CF lung might play a key role in the pathogenesis of P. aeruginosa lung infection, where a biofilm mode of growth is thought to be responsible for persistent infection.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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