Staphylococcus pseudintermedius is an opportunistic pathogen recognized as the leading cause of skin, ear, and post-operative bacterial infections in dogs and cats. Zoonotic infections have also recently been reported causing endocarditis, infection of surgical wounds, rhinosinusitis, and catheter-related bacteremia. The aim of the present study is to evaluate, for the first time, the pathogenic potential of S. pseudintermedius isolated from a human infection. To this end, strain DSM 25713, which was recently isolated from a wound of a leukemic patient who underwent a bone marrow transplantation, was investigated for biofilm formation and antibiotic-resistance under conditions relevant for wound infection.
The effect of pH (5.5, 7.1, and 8.7) and the presence of serum (diluted at 1:2, 1:10, and 1:100) on biofilm formation was assessed through a crystal violet assay. The presence of serum significantly reduced the ability to form biofilm, regardless of the pH value tested. In vitro activity of eight antibiotics against biofilm formation and mature 48 h-old biofilms was comparatively assessed by crystal violet assay and viable cell count, respectively. Antibiotics at sub-inhibitory concentrations reduced biofilm formation in a dose-dependent manner, although cefoxitin was the most active, causing a significant reduction already at 1/8xMIC. Rifampicin showed the highest activity against preformed biofilms (MBEC90: 2xMIC). None of the antibiotics completely eradicated the preformed biofilms, regardless of tested concentrations. Confocal and electron microscopy analyses of mature biofilm revealed a complex “mushroom-like” architecture consisting of microcolonies embedded in a fibrillar extracellular matrix.
For the first time, our results show that human wound-associated S. pseudintermedius is able to form inherently antibiotic-resistant biofilms, suggestive of its pathogenic potential, and consistent with recent reports of zoonotic infections.