Stenotrophomonas maltophilia in cystic fibrosis: serologic response and effect on lung disease

Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2011 Mar 1;183(5):635-40. doi: 10.1164/rccm.201009-1392OC. Epub 2010 Oct 1.


Rationale: Stenotrophomonas maltophilia is one of the more common multidrug-resistant organisms isolated from the respiratory tract of patients with cystic fibrosis (CF), but the effect of chronic S. maltophilia infection on CF lung disease is unknown.

Objectives: To determine the impact of chronic S. maltophilia infection on lung disease in CF.

Methods: We developed a serologic assay specific for S. maltophilia and in a cross-sectional study, measured serum antibodies to S. maltophilia in patients with CF to determine if a definition of chronic S. maltophilia isolation based on culture results corresponded to an immunologic response (serologic study). We then used this validated definition to examine the effect of chronic S. maltophilia on the severity of lung disease in a retrospective cohort study using the Toronto CF Database from 1997-2008 (cohort study).

Measurements and main results: Serum antibody levels to S. maltophilia were measured in 179 patients with CF. Patients with chronic S. maltophilia had significantly higher mean antibody levels to S. maltophilia flagellin (P < 0.0001) and whole cell (P = 0.0004) compared with patients with intermittent or no S. maltophilia. The cohort study included 692 patients with an average follow-up of 8.3 years. In an adjusted log linear model, patients with chronic S. maltophilia infection had a significantly increased risk of pulmonary exacerbation requiring hospitalization and antibiotics compared with patients who had never had S. maltophilia (relative risk = 1.63; P = 0.0002).

Conclusions: Chronic S. maltophilia infection in patients with CF is associated with a specific immune response to this organism and is an independent risk factor for pulmonary exacerbations.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Antibodies, Bacterial / immunology*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cohort Studies
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Cystic Fibrosis / blood
  • Cystic Fibrosis / immunology*
  • Cystic Fibrosis / microbiology*
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Gram-Negative Bacterial Infections / blood*
  • Gram-Negative Bacterial Infections / immunology*
  • Gram-Negative Bacterial Infections / microbiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Stenotrophomonas maltophilia / immunology*
  • Stenotrophomonas maltophilia / isolation & purification
  • Young Adult


  • Antibodies, Bacterial