Microbial Biofilms in Pulmonary and Critical Care Diseases

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Abstract

Microbial biofilms can colonize medical devices and human tissues, and their role in microbial pathogenesis is now well established. Not only are biofilms ubiquitous in natural and human-made environments, but they are also estimated to be associated with approximately two-thirds of nosocomial infections. This multicellular aggregated form of microbial growth confers a remarkable resistance to killing by antimicrobials and host defenses, leading biofilms to cause a wide range of subacute or chronic infections that are difficult to eradicate. We have gained tremendous knowledge on the molecular, genetic, microbiological, and biophysical processes involved in biofilm formation. These insights now shape our understanding, diagnosis, and management of many infectious diseases and direct the development of novel antimicrobial therapies that target biofilms. Bacterial and fungal biofilms play an important role in a range of diseases in pulmonary and critical care medicine, most importantly catheter-associated infections, ventilator-associated pneumonia, chronic Pseudomonas aeruginosa infections in cystic fibrosis lung disease, and Aspergillus fumigatus pulmonary infections.

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