Researchers from the University of Copenhagen have shown for the first time how bacteria can grow directly in the lungs of Cystic fibrosis patients, giving them the opportunity to get tremendous insights into bacteria behavior and growth in chronic infections.
The study also discovered the bacterial growth in chronic lung infections among cystic fibrosis (CF) patients was halted or slowed down by the immune cells. The researchers discovered the immune cells consumed all the oxygen and helped “suffocate” the bacteria, forcing the bacteria to switch to a much slower growth.
The findings have recently been published in the journal Infection and Immunity.
“The “suffocating” mechanism of the immune cells is the first time a bacteriostatic effect of immune cells has been described. The immune cells have up until now thought to only kill bacteria not halt their growth. In addition this helps us explain why the intensive and combinatory drug treatment approach developed and used in the CF clinic at Rigshospitalet, Copenhagen is as successful as it is,” says Professor Bjarnsholt.
The main goal of the project was to improve the understanding of the bacterial behavior in chronic infections including CF, and how the bacteria and immune defense compete with each other.
“We show that it is possible to study the bacteria not only in shake flasks in the laboratory but directly in the very complex environment in an infection. This is a major improvement for chronic infections in general. On top of this, the new mechanism of the white blood cells is very important to understand chronic infections. It is fair to say that we are on the right track to understand chronic infections like cystic fibrosis and piece by piece we will solve the puzzle,” concludes Professor Bjarnsholt.