Understanding lung infections in patients with cystic fibrosis

November 19, 2020

For young people with cystic fibrosis, lung infection with Staphylococcus aureus, MRSA, is common and is treated with antibiotics in the hope that this will prevent a decline in lung function. However there has recently been debate over the role S. aureus plays in CF lung disease. Researchers from the University of Warwick have used a new model of CF lungs which could be used to make better decisions about future use of antibiotics.

S. aureus is commonly found on the skin of healthy people, it can cause lung infection and abscess, and is often present in the mucus and sputum of children with cystic fibrosis. When S. aureus - including the antibiotic-resistant form, MRSA - is found in people with CF, it is treated with antibiotics, but exactly how S. aureus affects the lungs in people with this condition is unknown.

Previous research models have often looked at S. aureus in the lungs of mice, however when S. aureus is infected into mouse lungs, abscesses form and abscess are extremely rare in people with CF. In the paper 'An ex vivo cystic fibrosis model recapitulates key clinical aspects of chronic Staphylococcus aureus infection', published in the journal Microbiology, researchers from the School of Life Sciences at the University of Warwick, have found that using left over pig lungs from a butcher, and synthetic mucus that mimics CF lung secretions, that S. aureus tends to aggregate in mucus, not invade the lung tissue as it does in mice.

To see if they could find a better way to mimic human CF lungs, and decrease the use of animal testing, the researchers used pig lungs from a butcher, and adding synthetic CF mucus. They then introduced the S. aureus and found that it tended to aggregate in the mucus, rather than invading the lung tissue as would happen with an abscess.

Due to the lack of knowledge of how S. aureus affects the lungs of children with Cystic Fibrosis they tend to be treated with antibiotics, although this often does not alleviate symptoms of lung disease and there has been a debate into if antibiotics are the best treatment. This research led by the University of Warwick paves the way for new treatments for S. aureus in CF to be explored.

Dr Esther Sweeney, from the School of Life Sciences at the University of Warwick comments:

"The model we have used with pig lung has shown that S.aureus preferentially grows within mucus. We think this potentially represents the clinical situation for people with CF better than historical research models and our model could be used to further investigate the best ways of treating MRSA infection associated with cystic fibrosis. In future this may help to reduce inappropriate use of antibiotics."

Dr Freya Harrison, from the School of Life Sciences at the University of Warwick adds:

"Knowing how exactly how the lungs are affected by different bacteria is key to treating infection efficiently. We need to know which bacteria do the most damage, and how best to target them to get rid of them. We decided to make a new model using a pig lung, rather than mice, because pig lungs are more similar to human lungs, and we can combine them with artificial CF mucus. We think this makes bacteria behave more like they would in the lungs of a person with CF."

Paper available to view at: https://www.microbiologyresearch.org/content/journal/micro/10.1099/mic.0.000987

For further information please contact:

Alice Scott
Media Relations Manager - Science
University of Warwick
Tel: +44 (0) 7920 531 221
E-mail: alice.j.scott@warwick.ac.uk

University of Warwick

Related Antibiotics Articles from Brightsurf:

Insights in the search for new antibiotics
A collaborative research team from the University of Oklahoma, the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and Merck & Co. published an opinion article in the journal, Nature Chemical Biology, that addresses the gap in the discovery of new antibiotics.

New tricks for old antibiotics
The study published in the journal Immunity reveals that tetracyclines (broad spectre antibiotics), by partially inhibiting cell mitochondria activity, induce a compensatory response on the organism that decreases tissue damage caused during infection.

Benefits, risks seen with antibiotics-first for appendicitis
Antibiotics are a good choice for some patients with appendicitis but not all, according to study results published today in the New England Journal of Medicine.

How antibiotics interact
Understanding bottleneck effects in the translation of bacterial proteins can lead to a more effective combination of antibiotics / study in 'Nature Communications'

Are antivitamins the new antibiotics?
Antibiotics are among the most important discoveries of modern medicine and have saved millions of lives since the discovery of penicillin almost 100 years ago.

Hygiene reduces the need for antibiotics by up to 30%
A new paper published in the American Journal of Infection Control (AJIC), finds improved everyday hygiene practices, such as hand-washing, reduces the risk of common infections by up to 50%, reducing the need for antibiotics, by up to 30%.

Antibiotics: City dwellers and children take the most
City dwellers take more antibiotics than people in rural areas; children and the elderly use them more often than middle-aged people; the use of antibiotics decreases as education increases, but only in rich countries: These are three of the more striking trends identified by researchers of the NRW Forschungskolleg ''One Health and Urban Transformation'' at the University of Bonn.

Metals could be the link to new antibiotics
Compounds containing metals could hold the key to the next generation of antibiotics to combat the growing threat of global antibiotic resistance.

Antibiotics from the sea
The team led by Prof. Christian Jogler of Friedrich Schiller University, Jena, has succeeded in cultivating several dozen marine bacteria in the laboratory -- bacteria that had previously been paid little attention.

Antibiotics not necessary for most toothaches, according to new ADA guideline
The American Dental Association (ADA) announced today a new guideline indicating that in most cases, antibiotics are not recommended for toothaches.

Read More: Antibiotics News and Antibiotics Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.