Bacterial biofilms: an emerging link to disease pathogenesis

Annu Rev Microbiol. 2003;57:677-701. doi: 10.1146/annurev.micro.57.030502.090720.


The role of biofilms in the pathogenesis of some chronic human infections is now widely accepted. However, the criteria used to determine whether a given infection is caused by biofilms remain unclear. In this chapter we discuss three infections that are caused by biofilms--infectious kidney stones, bacterial endocarditis, and cystic fibrosis lung infections--and focus on the role of the biofilm in disease pathogenesis. Biofilms are also important as environmental reservoirs for pathogens, and the biofilm growth mode may provide organisms with survival advantages in natural environments and increase their virulence. The consequences of pathogens living in environmental biofilms and an analysis of some specific environmental biofilm systems are presented.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bacterial Adhesion / physiology
  • Biofilms*
  • Cystic Fibrosis / microbiology
  • Cystic Fibrosis / pathology
  • Endocarditis, Bacterial / microbiology
  • Endocarditis, Bacterial / pathology
  • Gram-Negative Bacteria / physiology*
  • Gram-Negative Bacterial Infections / microbiology*
  • Humans
  • Kidney Calculi / microbiology