Novel Treatment of Staphylococcus aureus Device-Related Infections Using Fibrinolytic Agents

Antimicrob Agents Chemother. 2018 Jan 25;62(2):e02008-17. doi: 10.1128/AAC.02008-17. Print 2018 Feb.


Staphylococcal infections involving biofilms represent a significant challenge in the treatment of patients with device-related infections. Staphylococcus aureus biofilms have been shown to be SaeRS regulated and dependent on the coagulase-catalyzed conversion of fibrinogen into fibrin on surfaces coated with human plasma. Here we investigated the treatment of staphylococcal biofilm device-related infections by digesting the fibrin biofilm matrix with and without existing antimicrobials. The fibrinolytic agents plasmin, streptokinase, and nattokinase, and TrypLE, a recombinant trypsin-like protease, were used to digest and treat S. aureus biofilms grown in vitro using in vivo-like static biofilm assays with and without antimicrobials. Cytotoxicity, the potential to induce a cytokine response in whole human blood, and the risk of induction of tolerance to fibrinolytic agents were investigated. A rat model of intravascular catheter infection was established to investigate the efficacy of selected fibrinolytic agents in vivo Under biomimetic conditions, the fibrinolytic agents effectively dispersed established S. aureus biofilms and, in combination with common antistaphylococcal antimicrobials, effectively killed bacterial cells being released from the biofilm. These fibrinolytic agents were not cytotoxic and did not affect the host immune response. The rat model of infection successfully demonstrated the activity of the selected fibrinolytic agents alone and in combination with antimicrobials on established biofilms in vivo TrypLE and nattokinase most successfully removed adherent cells from plasma-coated surfaces and significantly improved the efficacy of existing antimicrobials against S. aureus biofilms in vitro and in vivo These biofilm dispersal agents represent a viable future treatment option for S. aureus device-related infections.

Keywords: Staphylococcus aureus; biofilms; intravascular devices.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / pharmacology*
  • Biofilms / drug effects
  • Catheter-Related Infections / drug therapy*
  • Catheter-Related Infections / microbiology*
  • Cell Line
  • Coagulase / metabolism
  • Fibrinolytic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Humans
  • Microbial Sensitivity Tests / methods
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Staphylococcal Infections / drug therapy*
  • Staphylococcal Infections / metabolism
  • Staphylococcus aureus / drug effects*
  • Staphylococcus aureus / metabolism


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Coagulase
  • Fibrinolytic Agents