A novel model to study bacterial adherence to the transplanted airway: Inhibition of Burkholderia cepacia adherence to human airway by dextran and xylitol Academic Article uri icon

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  • BACKGROUND: Lung infection with Burkholderia cepacia complex before lung transplantation in patients with cystic fibrosis is a major risk factor for decreased post-operative survival rates compared with those of patients colonized with the more common opportunistic pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Because adherence to mucosal surfaces is an important initial step in infection, we investigated the use of non-toxic neutral polysaccharides and a sugar alcohol to prevent adherence of B cepacia complex to allograft airway epithelium. METHODS: We used human airway explants prepared from donor tracheobronchial tissue to test the effect of dextrans and xylitol in inhibiting the binding of Burkholderia cepacia complex. We used immunofluorescence and electron microscopy to determine the distribution of bacteria in the explants. RESULTS: Burkholderia cepacia complex bound to the explants and was found only in the surface mucus layer. Dextran 40 kd applied before adding the bacteria decreased the number of bound organisms by 80% to 99%. Smaller molecular mass dextrans (4 and 20 kd) were ineffective. Xylitol inhibited bacterial binding by 67% to 85%. Both agents seemed to decrease the thickness of the surface mucus, suggesting that they may indirectly inhibit bacterial binding by removing adherent surface mucus. CONCLUSIONS: Treating donor lungs with dextran 40 kd or xylitol before (and possibly after) surgery may inhibit the adherence of Burkholderia cepacia complex to airways and may prevent or decrease subsequent infection of the allografts.


  • Sajjan, Umadevi
  • Moreira, Jorge
  • Liu, Mingyao
  • Humar, Atul
  • Chaparro, Cecilia
  • Forstner, Janet
  • Keshavjee, Shafique

publication date

  • December 2004