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Biofilm infections between Scylla and Charybdis: interplay of host antimicrobial peptides and antibiotics

Authors Chernysh S, Gordya N, Tulin D, Yakovlev A

Received 22 November 2017

Accepted for publication 11 January 2018

Published 9 April 2018 Volume 2018:11 Pages 501—514

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/IDR.S157847

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewers approved by Dr Colin Mak

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Professor Suresh Antony


Sergey Chernysh,* Natalia Gordya,* Dmitry Tulin, Andrey Yakovlev

Laboratory of Insect Biopharmacology and Immunology, Faculty of Biology, St. Petersburg State University, St. Petersburg, Russia

*These authors contributed equally to this work


Purpose: The aim of this study is to improve the anti-biofilm activity of antibiotics. We hypothesized that the antimicrobial peptide (AMP) complex of the host’s immune system can be used for this purpose and examined the assumption on model biofilms.
Methods: FLIP7, the AMP complex of the blowfly Calliphora vicina containing a combination of defensins, cecropins, diptericins and proline-rich peptides was isolated from the hemolymph of bacteria-challenged maggots. The complex interaction with antibiotics of various classes was studied in biofilm and planktonic cultures of Staphylococcus aureus, Escherichia coli, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Klebsiella pneumoniae and Acinetobacter baumannii by the checkerboard method using trimethyl tetrazolium chloride cell viability and crystal violet biofilm eradication assays supplemented with microscopic analysis.
Results: We found that FLIP7 demonstrated: high synergy (fractional inhibitory concentration index <0.25) with meropenem, amikacin, kanamycin, ampicillin, vancomycin and cefotaxime; synergy with clindamycin, erythromycin and chloramphenicol; additive interaction with oxacillin, tetracycline, ciprofloxacin and gentamicin; and no interaction with polymyxin B. The interaction in planktonic cell models was significantly weaker than in biofilms of the same strains. The analysis of the dose–effect curves pointed to persister cells as a likely target of FLIP7 synergistic effect. The biofilm eradication assay showed that the effect also caused total destruction of S. aureus and E. coli biofilm materials. The effect allowed reducing the effective anti-biofilm concentration of the antibiotic to a level well below the one clinically achievable (2–3 orders of magnitude in the case of meropenem, ampicillin, cefotaxime and oxacillin).
Conclusion: FLIP7 is a highly efficient host antimicrobial system helping antibiotics to overcome biofilm barriers through persisters’ sensitization and biofilm material destruction. It is promising for the treatment of biofilm infections as an adjuvant of various small-molecule antibiotics.

Keywords: insect antimicrobial peptides, antibiotics, synergy, biofilms, persisters, Calliphora vicina

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