Polymorphonuclear leukocytes (PMN) phagocytose and kill individual bacteria but are far less efficient when challenged with bacterial aggregates. Consequently, growth within a biofilm affords Staphylococcus aureus some protection but PMN penetrate S. aureus biofilms and phagocytose bacteria, suggesting that enzymes released through neutrophil degranulation degrade biofilms into fragments small enough for phagocytosis. Here we show that the capacity of PMN to invade biofilms depended largely on the activity of secreted cathepsin G.
Keywords: Staphylococcus aureus; biofilm; cathepsin G; polymorphonuclear leukocytes.
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