Burkholderia cepacia is known to invade and survive within respiratory epithelial cells. Previous studies have employed transformed cell lines and it is not known whether the bacterium is capable of manifesting the same phenomena in primary cell culture. Two strains of B. cepacia of environmental (NCTC 10661) and clinical origin (C1359) were examined for their ability to invade and survive (over a 24 h period) within type II pneumocytes in primary culture using a gentamicin-ceftazidime antibiotic protection assay. Both strains of B. cepacia were capable of invasion of type II pneumocytes in primary culture. Strain C1359 was capable of multiplying intracellularly as indicated by a seven-fold increase in the numbers of bacteria from 4-24 h, whereas strain 10661, although unable to replicate intracellularly, was found to survive in the pneumocytes for at least 24 h. Future studies on the invasiveness of B. cepacia can employ A549 cells as a valid surrogate for primary cell culture assays which are time-consuming, labour-intensive and expensive to perform.
Copyright 2001 Academic Press.