Background: The role that bacterial biofilms might play in recalcitrant forms of chronic rhinosinusitis (CRS) is increasingly being recognized. However, the detection of bacteria existing in this form, using standard culture, is limited by their unique metabolically inactive properties. All current biofilm diagnostic modalities require invasive mucosal biopsies, which limit their use to the operating theatre. Methods: Twenty CRS patients and 5 controls were enrolled in a prospective study to assess the feasibility of noninvasively diagnosing S. aureus biofilms by detecting the biofilm matrix polysaccharide poly-N-acetylglucosamine (PNAG). An immunofluorescence protocol was developed for PNAG detection and compared with both standard microbiological cultures and fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH). Results: Thirteen of 20 CRS patients had evidence of S. aureus biofilm formation using FISH. Of these, 12 had detectable PNAG. Interestingly none of the S. aureus FISH-negative patients were PNAG-positive despite the presence of coagulase-negative Staphylococci biofilms, some of which may exhibit PNAG in their pathogenic forms. The development of a noninvasive S. aureus biofilm diagnostic test provides a reliable means to identify a high-risk group of CRS patients who harbor S. aureus biofilms. The ability to be used outside of the perioperative period to assess surgical efficacy, guide management, and evaluate new treatment modalities provides a significant advance in this field of research and clinical practice. Conclusion: This study has confirmed the feasibility of noninvasive detection of S. aureus biofilms with a simple test that produces results comparable to the more invasive methods that are currently relied upon.
- S. aureus