Pseudomonas aeruginosa is the leading cause of morbidity and mortality in patients with cystic fibrosis (CF). With chronicity of infection, the organism resides as a biofilm, shows multi-drug resistance, diversifies its colony morphology and becomes auxotrophic. The patients have been found to be colonized with multiple genotypes. The present work was carried out to characterize P. aeruginosa isolated from children with cystic fibrosis using phenotypic and genotypic methods.
We studied 56 patients with CF attending the Pediatric Chest clinic at All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, India during August 1998-August 2001. These patients were regularly followed up at the clinic. Out of 56 patients, 27 were culture positive for P. aeruginosa where 8 were chronically infected (Group1) and 19 were intermittently colonized with the organism (Group2). Patients under Group1 had significantly higher rates of hospitalization, death and colonization with different colony morphotypes (p < 0.05). The isolates from Group1 patients were the positive producers of extended spectrum beta lactamase. A total of 5 auxotrophs were recovered from 2 patients where one was chronically infected with P. aeruginosa and the other was a recently enrolled patient. The auxotrophs had the specific requirement for methionine and arginine. Molecular typing revealed 33 ERIC-PCR (E1-E33) and 5 PCR-ribotyping (P1-P5) patterns. By ERIC-PCR, 4 patients were colonized with 2–4 genotypes and the remaining 23 patients were colonized with the single genotype.
With chronicity of infection, P. aeruginosa becomes multidrug resistant, diversifies its colony morphology, acquires mucoidity and shows auxotrophy for amino acids. The chronically infected patients can be colonized with multiple genotypes. Thus in a particular clinical set up, high index of suspicion should be there for diagnosis of CF patients so as to prevent the delay in diagnosis and management of CF patients.