09 Jan Cystic fibrosis and why treatments for bacterial infections may only work in parts of the lung
In the study, published in Cell Host & Microbe, researchers dissected ten pairs of lungs removed from cystic fibrosis (CF) patients at the time of transplant and found that populations of Pseudomonas aeruginosa, a bacterium which causes chronic infections in CF, became regionally isolated, driving diversification.
These clonally related P. aeruginosa populations had different phenotypes depending on where the colony was in the lung. In studying mildly and severely diseased lung regions, the team found the bacteria differed in their nutritional requirements and antibiotic resistance. The results suggest that this pathogen diversification arises from the heterogeneous spatial conditions inside the lung, caused by diseases such as CF.
These findings help to explain why CF treatments only work in certain areas of the lung. Furthermore, where the treatment is effective on a region, there may be phenotypically different bacteria capable of moving into the space thus created, furthering the chronic infection.