Analysis of Clostridium difficile biofilms: imaging and antimicrobial treatment


BACKGROUND: Clostridium difficile, a spore-forming Gram-positive anaerobic bacillus, is the most common causative agent of healthcare-associated diarrhoea. Formation of biofilms may protect C. difficile against antibiotics, potentially leading to treatment failure. Furthermore, bacterial spores or vegetative cells may linger in biofilms in the gut causing C. difficile infection recurrence. OBJECTIVES: In this study, we evaluated and compared the efficacy of four antibiotics (fidaxomicin, surotomycin, vancomycin and metronidazole) in penetrating C. difficile biofilms and killing vegetative cells. METHODS: C. difficile biofilms grown initially for 48 or 72 h using the colony biofilm model were then treated with antibiotics at a concentration of 25 × MIC for 24 h. Vegetative cells and spores were enumerated. The effect of treatment on biofilm structure was studied by scanning electron microscopy (SEM). The ability of fidaxomicin and surotomycin to penetrate biofilms was studied using fluorescently tagged antibiotics. RESULTS: Both surotomycin and fidaxomicin were significantly more effective than vancomycin or metronidazole (P < 0.001) at killing vegetative cells in established biofilms. Fidaxomicin was more effective than metronidazole at reducing viable spore counts in biofilms (P < 0.05). Fluorescently labelled surotomycin and fidaxomicin penetrated C. difficile biofilms in < 1 h. After 24 h of treatment, SEM demonstrated that both fidaxomicin and surotomycin disrupted the biofilm structure, while metronidazole had no observable effect. CONCLUSIONS: Fidaxomicin is effective in disrupting C. difficile biofilms, killing vegetative cells and decreasing spore counts.




James GA, L Chesnel, L Boegli, ED Pulcini, S Fisher, PS Stewart, “Analysis of Clostridium difficile biofilms: imaging and antimicrobial treatment,” Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy, January 2018 ;73(1):102-108. doi: 10.1093/jac/dkx353.
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