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FEMS Microbiol Lett. 2009 Nov;300(2):153-64. doi: 10.1111/j.1574-6968.2009.01704.x. Epub 2009 Aug 4.

Cystic fibrosis infections: treatment strategies and prospects.

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Institute for the Biotechnology of Infectious Diseases, University of Technology Sydney, Broadway, NSW 2007, Australia.


Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Burkholderia cepacia are the two major Gram-negative rods that colonize/infect the lungs of patients with cystic fibrosis (CF). These organisms may cause progressive respiratory failure, although occasionally more rapid infections result in the 'Cepacia' syndrome. Many antibiotics have been used against Pseudomonas and Burkholderia, but once chronic colonization has been established, eradication of these organisms is rare. Drug therapy for CF patients is compromised by a number of bacterial factors that render the infectious agents resistant to antibiotics, including efflux pumps that remove antibiotics, lack of penetration of antibiotics into bacterial biofilms, and changes in the cell envelope that reduce the permeability of antibiotics. Any combination of these mechanisms increases the likelihood of bacterial survival. Therefore, combinations of antibiotics or of antibiotic and nonantibiotic compounds are currently being tested against Pseudomonas and Burkholderia. However, progress has been slow, with only occasional combinations showing promise for the eradication of persistent Gram-negative rods in the airways of CF patients. This review will summarize the current knowledge of CF infections and speculate on potential future pathways to treat these chronic infections.

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