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Pranab K. Mukherjee, Jyotsna Chandra, Changping Yu, Yan Sun, Eric Pearlman, Mahmoud A. Ghannoum; Characterization of Fusarium Keratitis Outbreak Isolates: Contribution of Biofilms to Antimicrobial Resistance and Pathogenesis. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2012;53(8):4450-4457. doi: 10.1167/iovs.12-9848.
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Fusarium is a major cause of microbial keratitis, and its ability to form biofilms was suggested as a contributing factor in recent outbreaks. We investigated the ability of outbreak Fusarium isolates (F. solani species complex [FSSC] and F. oxysporum species complex [FOSC]) to form biofilms in vitro and in vivo, and evaluated their antifungal susceptibilities.
Biofilm formation was assessed using our in vitro contact lens model and in vivo murine model. Biofilm architecture was assessed using confocal laser scanning microscopy (CLSM). Susceptibility against amphotericin B (AmB), voriconazole (VCZ), and natamycin (NAT) was determined using the CLSI-M38-A2 method and XTT metabolic assay.
FSSC strains formed more biofilms than FOSC, in a strain- and clade-dependent manner. CLSM analyses revealed that “high biofilm forming” (HBF) strains had denser and thicker biofilms than “low biofilm forming” (LBF) strains of both species (thickness 51 vs. 41 μm for FSSC and 61 vs. 45 μm for FOSC strains, P < 0.05 for both comparisons). Fusarium biofilms exhibited species-dependent antifungal susceptibilities (e.g., FSSC biofilms AmB minimal inhibitory concentrations [MIC] ≥16 μg/mL, while NAT or VCZ MICs were 2–8 μg/mL). FSSC-infected mice had severe corneal opacification independent of biofilm thickness, while FOSC infection resulted in moderate corneal opacification. Corneal fungal burden of mice infected with HBF strains was higher than those of the LBF strains. In contrast, the reference ATCC isolate was unable to cause infection.
The ability to form biofilms is a key pathogenicity determinant of Fusarium, irrespective of the thickness of these biofilms. Further studies are warranted to explore this association in greater detail.
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