Small-colony variants of Pseudomonas aeruginosa in cystic fibrosis

Clin Infect Dis. 1999 Sep;29(3):621-5. doi: 10.1086/598644.


In the context of chronic lung infection due to Pseudomonas aeruginosa in cystic fibrosis (CF), attention has been focused on the presence of the most common mucoid phenotype. In this study, the presence of small-colony variants (SCVs) of P. aeruginosa in respiratory tract specimens from patients with CF was investigated, and the clinical conditions predisposing to SCVs were analyzed. P. aeruginosa SCVs were isolated from 33 of 86 P. aeruginosa-positive CF patients over a 2-year period. Fast-growing revertants with larger surface colonies could be isolated from SCV populations. Electron microscopy revealed no significant difference in cell size or morphology. MICs of a broad range of antipseudomonas agents for SCVs were two- to eightfold higher than values for revertants. Recovery of SCVs was correlated with parameters revealing poor lung function and was significantly associated with daily inhalation of tobramycin or colistin.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / pharmacology
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use
  • Colony Count, Microbial
  • Comorbidity
  • Cystic Fibrosis / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Germany / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Microbial Sensitivity Tests
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Pseudomonas Infections / drug therapy
  • Pseudomonas Infections / epidemiology*
  • Pseudomonas Infections / microbiology*
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa / classification*
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa / drug effects
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Sputum / microbiology
  • Statistics, Nonparametric


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents