Staphylococcus epidermidis forms biofilms under simulated platelet storage conditions

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Staphylococcus epidermidis grows slowly in platelet (PLT) preparations compared to other bacteria, presenting the possibility of missed detection by routine screening. S. epidermidis is a leading cause of nosocomial sepsis, with virulence residing in its ability to establish chronic infections through production of slime layers, or biofilms, on biomedical devices. This study aims to establish biofilm formation (BF) as a mode of growth by S. epidermidis in PLT preparations.


Biofilm-positive (BFpos) and -negative (BFneg) S. epidermidis strains were grown in whole blood–derived PLTs (WBDPs) and in glucose-rich medium (TSBg). An assay for BF was adapted for cultures grown in WBDPs or filtered WBDPs in polystyrene culture plates. Bacterial attachment to polyvinylchloride PLT bags and PLTs was examined by scanning electron microscopy.


Both strains display similar growth profiles in WBDPs and TSBg. Unexpectedly, evidence of BF was observed on PLT bags and on PLTs directly, not only by the BFpos strain but also by the BFneg strain. The BFpos strain displayed greater plastic adherence than the BFneg strain in WBDPs (p < 0.05). BF by the BFneg strain was approximately 10-fold greater in WBDPs compared to TSBg (p < 0.05), likely by use of PLTs as a scaffold. Furthermore, BF by S. epidermidis was significantly decreased when PLT concentration was reduced 1000-fold.


S. epidermidis forms biofilms on PLT aggregates and on PLT bags under PLT storage conditions. Our results demonstrate that the PLT storage environment can promote a BF growth mechanism for contaminant bacteria.

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