Importance of the field: CF airway mucus can be infected by opportunistic microorganisms, notably Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Once organisms are established as biofilms, even the most potent antibiotics have little effect on their viability, especially during late-stage chronic infections. Better understanding of the mechanisms used by P. aeruginosa to circumvent host defenses and therapeutic intervention strategies is critical for advancing novel treatment strategies.
Areas covered in this review: Inflammatory injury in CF lung, role of neutrophils in pathogenesis, P. aeruginosa biofilms, mucoidy and its relationship with poor airway oxygenation, mechanisms by which P. aeruginosa biofilms in the CF airway can be killed.
What the reader will gain: An understanding of the processes that P. aeruginosa undergoes during CF airway disease and clues to better treat such infections in future.
Take home message: The course of CF airway disease is a process involving host and microbial factors that often dictate frequency of pulmonary exacerbations, thus affecting the overall course. In the past decade significant discoveries have been made regarding the pathogenic processes used by P. aeruginosa to bypass the immune system. Many new and exciting features of P. aeruginosa now illuminate weaknesses in the organism that may render it susceptible to inexpensive compounds that force its own destruction.