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Infect Immun. 1982 Jul;37(1):318-26.

Adherence of slime-producing strains of Staphylococcus epidermidis to smooth surfaces.


Slime production is not a generally recognized feature of Staphylococcus epidermidis. In a recent outbreak of S. epidermidis intravascular catheter-associated sepsis, we noted that 63% of clinically implicated strains grew as a slimy film coating the culture tube walls when propagated in tryptic soy broth. Only 37% of randomly collected blood culture contaminants and skin isolates demonstrated a similar phenomenon (p less than 0.05). Transmission electron micrographs of these coating bacteria showed them to be encased in an extracellular matrix that stained with alcian blue. Slime production was most evident in autoclaved media containing Casamino Acids and glucose supplementation (0.25% wt/vol). There were strain and media preparation variability of slime production in the presence of other carbohydrates. Some strains were not able to produce slime under any of the tested conditions. The production or nonproduction of slime did not influence growth rate. When grown in vitro, slime producers accumulated on the surface of intravascular catheters as macrocolonies, whereas non-slime, producers did not. Transmission and scanning electron micrographs showed slime producers to be encased in an adhesive layer on the catheter surface, whereas nonproducers were not encased. These results suggest that slime-mediated adherence may be a critical factor in the pathogenesis of S. epidermidis infections of medical devices.

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