One of the most troublesome medical problems today is infection of prosthetic devices with organisms that form polysaccharide biofilms. This combined with increasing antimicrobial drug resistance is making many infectious diseases incurable. Cryptococcus neoformans is a human-pathogenic fungus that has a polysaccharide capsule and can form biofilms in prosthetic medical devices. We developed a system to study cryptococcal biofilm formation in vitro and studied the effect of antibody to the C. neoformans capsular polysaccharide on this process. C. neoformans biofilm formation was dependent on the presence of a polysaccharide capsule and correlated with the ability of capsular polysaccharide to bind the polystyrene solid support. Protective antibodies prevented biofilm formation whereas nonprotective antibodies were not effective. The mechanism of antibody action involved interference with capsular polysaccharide release from the fungal cell. In contrast, lactoferrin, an effector molecule of innate immune mechanisms, was unable to prevent fungal biofilm formation despite its efficacy against bacterial biofilms. Our results suggest a new role of adaptive humoral immunity whereby some antibodies can inhibit biofilm formation by encapsulated organisms. Vaccines that elicit antibody responses to capsular antigens and/or passive transfer of antibodies to microbial polysaccharides may be useful in preventing biofilm formation.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Infectious Diseases