Pyocyanin effects on respiratory epithelium: relevance in Pseudomonas aeruginosa airway infections

Trends Microbiol. 2013 Feb;21(2):73-81. doi: 10.1016/j.tim.2012.10.004. Epub 2012 Nov 7.


Pseudomonas aeruginosa (PA) uses several virulence factors to establish chronic respiratory infections in bronchiectasis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and cystic fibrosis (CF) patients. One of its toxins, pyocyanin (PYO), is a redox-active pigment that is required for full virulence in animal models and has been detected in patients' airway secretions. PYO promotes virulence by interfering with several cellular functions in host cells including electron transport, cellular respiration, energy metabolism, gene expression, and innate immune mechanisms. This review summarizes recent advances in PYO biology with special attention to current views on its role in human airway infections and on its interactions with the first line of our airway defense, the respiratory epithelium.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cystic Fibrosis / metabolism
  • Cystic Fibrosis / microbiology
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Host-Pathogen Interactions
  • Humans
  • Mucins / biosynthesis
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Pseudomonas Infections / genetics
  • Pseudomonas Infections / metabolism*
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa / metabolism*
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa / pathogenicity
  • Pyocyanine / metabolism*
  • Respiratory Mucosa / metabolism*
  • Respiratory Mucosa / microbiology*
  • Virulence Factors


  • Mucins
  • Virulence Factors
  • Pyocyanine