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Assessing the inflammatory response to in vitro polymicrobial wound biofilms in a skin epidermis model

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Christopher NileORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


© 2022, The Author(s). Wounds can commonly become infected with polymicrobial biofilms containing bacterial and fungal microorganisms. Microbial colonization of the wound can interfere with sufficient healing and repair, leading to high rates of chronicity in certain individuals, which can have a huge socioeconomic burden worldwide. One route for alleviating biofilm formation in chronic wounds is sufficient treatment of the infected area with topical wound washes and ointments. Thus, the primary aim here was to create a complex in vitro biofilm model containing a range of microorganisms commonly isolated from the infected wound milieu. These polymicrobial biofilms were treated with three conventional anti-biofilm wound washes, chlorhexidine (CHX), povidone-iodine (PVP-I), and hydrogen peroxide (H2O2), and efficacy against the microorganisms assessed using live/dead qPCR. All treatments reduced the viability of the biofilms, although H2O2 was found to be the most effective treatment modality. These biofilms were then co-cultured with 3D skin epidermis to assess the inflammatory profile within the tissue. A detailed transcriptional and proteomic profile of the epidermis was gathered following biofilm stimulation. At the transcriptional level, all treatments reduced the expression of inflammatory markers back to baseline (untreated tissue controls). Olink technology revealed a unique proteomic response in the tissue following stimulation with untreated and CHX-treated biofilms. This highlights treatment choice for clinicians could be dictated by how the tissue responds to such biofilm treatment, and not merely how effective the treatment is in killing the biofilm.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Brown JL, Townsend E, Short RD, Williams C, Woodall C, Nile CJ, Ramage G

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: npj Biofilms and Microbiomes

Year: 2022

Volume: 8

Issue: 1

Online publication date: 07/04/2022

Acceptance date: 24/02/2022

Date deposited: 26/04/2022

ISSN (electronic): 2055-5008

Publisher: Nature Publishing Group


DOI: 10.1038/s41522-022-00286-z

PubMed id: 35393409


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