Stenotrophomonas maltophilia and Burkholderia cepacia complex (Bcc) have been increasingly recognized as relevant pathogens in hospitalized, immunocompromised and cystic fibrosis (CF) patients. As a result of complex mechanisms, including biofilm formation and multidrug resistance phenotype, S. maltophilia and Bcc respiratory infections are often refractory to therapy, and have been associated with a worse outcome in CF patients. Here we demonstrate for the first time that N-acetylcysteine (NAC), a mucolytic agent with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, may exhibit antimicrobial and antibiofilm activity against these pathogens. The antimicrobial and antibiofilm activity of high NAC concentrations, potentially achievable by topical administration, was tested against a collection of S. maltophilia (n = 19) and Bcc (n = 19) strains, including strains from CF patients with acquired resistance traits. Minimum Inhibitory Concentrations (MICs) and Minimum Bactericidal Concentrations (MBCs) ranged from 16 to 32 mg/ml and from 32 to >32 mg/ml, respectively. Sub-MIC concentrations (i.e., 0.25 × MIC) slowed down the growth kinetics of most strains. In time-kill assays, 2-day-old biofilms were more affected than planktonic cultures, suggesting a specific antibiofilm activity of NAC against these pathogens. Indeed, a dose- and time-dependent antibiofilm activity of NAC against most of the S. maltophilia and Bcc strains tested was observed, with a sizable antibiofilm activity observed also at 0.5 and 1 × MIC NAC concentrations. Furthermore, at those concentrations, NAC was also shown to significantly inhibit biofilm formation with the great majority of tested strains.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)