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Bacterial behavior in human blood reveals complement evaders with some persister-like features

Abstract : Bacterial bloodstream infections (BSI) are a major health concern and can cause up to 40% mortality. Pseudomonas aeruginosa BSI is often of nosocomial origin and is associated with a particularly poor prognosis. The mechanism of bacterial persistence in blood is still largely unknown. Here, we analyzed the behavior of a cohort of clinical and laboratory Pseudomonas aeruginosa strains in human blood. In this specific environment, complement was the main defensive mechanism, acting either by direct bacterial lysis or by opsonophagocytosis, which required recognition by immune cells. We found highly variable survival rates for different strains in blood, whatever their origin, serotype, or the nature of their secreted toxins (ExoS, ExoU or ExlA) and despite their detection by immune cells. We identified and characterized a complement-tolerant subpopulation of bacterial cells that we named "evaders". Evaders shared some features with bacterial persisters, which tolerate antibiotic treatment. Notably, in bi-phasic killing curves, the evaders represented 0.1-0.001% of the initial bacterial load and displayed transient tolerance. However, the evaders are not dormant and require active metabolism to persist in blood. We detected the evaders for five other major human pathogens: Acinetobacter baumannii, Burkholderia multivorans, enteroaggregative Escherichia coli, Klebsiella pneumoniae, and Yersinia enterocolitica. Thus, the evaders could allow the pathogen to persist within the bloodstream, and may be the cause of fatal bacteremia or dissemination, in particular in the absence of effective antibiotic treatments.
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Submitted on : Tuesday, November 2, 2021 - 2:46:18 PM
Last modification on : Wednesday, November 10, 2021 - 11:48:41 AM
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Stéphane Pont, Nathan Fraikin, Yvan Caspar, Laurence van Melderen, Ina Attrée, et al.. Bacterial behavior in human blood reveals complement evaders with some persister-like features. PLoS Pathogens, Public Library of Science, 2020, 16 (12), pp.e1008893. ⟨10.1371/journal.ppat.1008893⟩. ⟨hal-03112360⟩

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