Cooperativity between Stenotrophomonas maltophilia and Pseudomonas aeruginosa during polymicrobial airway infections.Infect Immun 2020II
Stenotrophomonas maltophilia is a Gram-negative bacterium found ubiquitously in the environment that has historically been regarded as nonpathogenic. S. maltophilia is increasingly observed in patient sputa in cystic fibrosis (CF), and while existing epidemiology indicates that patients with S. maltophilia have poorer diagnoses, its clinical significance remains unclear. Moreover, as multidrug resistance is common among S. maltophilia isolates, treatment options for these infections may be limited. Here we investigated the pathogenicity of S. maltophilia alone and during polymicrobial infection with Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Colonization, persistence, and virulence of S. maltophilia were assessed in experimental respiratory infections of mice. The results of this study indicate that S. maltophilia transiently colonizes the lung accompanied by significant weight loss and immune cell infiltration, and the expression of early inflammatory markers including IL-6, IL-1α, and TNF-α. Importantly, polymicrobial infection with P. aeruginosa elicited significantly higher S. maltophilia counts in bronchoalveolar lavages and lung tissue homogenates. This increase in bacterial load was directly correlated with the density of the P. aeruginosa population, and required viable P. aeruginosa bacteria. Microscopic analysis of biofilms formed in vitro revealed that S. maltophilia formed well-integrated biofilms with P. aeruginosa, and these organisms colocalize in the lung during dual species infection. Based on these results, we conclude that active cellular processes by P. aeruginosa afford significant benefit to S. maltophilia during polymicrobial infections. Further, these results indicate that S. maltophilia may have clinical significance in respiratory infections.