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Pandoraea species have emerged as opportunistic pathogens among cystic fibrosis (CF) and non-CF patients. Pandoraea pulmonicola is the predominant Pandoraea species among Irish CF patients. The objective of this study was to investigate the pathogenicity and potential mechanisms of virulence of Irish P. pulmonicola isolates and strains from other Pandoraea species. Three patients from whom the P. pulmonicola isolates were isolated have since died. The in vivo virulence of these and other Pandoraea strains was examined by determining the ability to kill Galleria mellonella larvae. The P. pulmonicola strains generally were the most virulent of the species tested, with three showing a comparable or greater level of virulence in vivo relative to another CF pathogen, Burkholderia cenocepacia, whilst strains from two other species, Pandoraea apista and Pandoraea pnomenusa, were considerably less virulent. For all Pandoraea species, whole cells were required for larval killing, as cell-free supernatants had little effect on larval survival. Overall, invasive Pandoraea strains showed comparable invasion of two independent lung epithelial cell lines, irrespective of whether they had a CF phenotype. Pandoraea strains were also capable of translocation across polarized lung epithelial cell monolayers. Although protease secretion was a common characteristic across the genus, it is unlikely to be involved in pathogenesis. In conclusion, whilst multiple mechanisms of pathogenicity may exist across the genus Pandoraea, it appears that lung cell invasion and translocation contribute to the virulence of P. pulmonicola strains.
Herbert, G., Costello, A., Fabunmi, L., Schaffer, K., Caraher, E., Callaghan, M. and McClean, M. Virulence of an emerging respiratory pathogen, genus Pandoraea, in vivo and its interactions with lung epithelial cells. Letters in Applied Microbiology 02/2010; 50(5):500- DOI 10.1099/jmm.0.022657-0