Studies on bacterial lung infections in cystic fibrosis

  • Claire E. Breuleux

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


The major cause of death in CF is a continuous inflammation of the lungs colonised with Pseudomonas aeruginosa and occasionally also with Burkholderia cepacia. A combination of serum IgG to LPS and serum PCT levels were found to be good markers for detection of early colonisation with P. aeruginosa. Colomycin sulphomethate (colistin E) is one of the antibiotics used to treat P. aeruginosa infections in CF. Electrophoretic methods were developed to monitor the rate of conversion of colomycin sulphomethate to the active form of the drug. Antimicrobial activity towards P. aeruginosa was generated as the sulphomethate substituents were released. Clinical resistance of P. aeruginosa to colomycin is rare, but a number of isolates have been isolated. Twelve colomycin-resistant clinical isolates were investigated to determine the mechanism of resistance. It was found that the low level of resistance was due to over expression of outer membrane protein H (OprH) in 5 isolates. A novel mechanism of resistance involving modification of the phosphate groups in LPS was identified in one of the isolates. Drugs which reduce inflammation in infected CF lungs would be of great advantage for therapy. Reducing inflammation would preserve the lung function and increase the quality of life for CF patients. Antibiotics like tetracyclines, macrolides and polymyxins were tested for their potential anti-inflammatory effects using cultured human monocytic (U937) cells which secrete the pro-inflammatory cytokines IL1- and TNF- in response to LPS from P. aeruginosa and B. cepacia. It was found that tetracyclines, and especially doxycycline, are good inhibitors of cytokine release by U937 cells and therefore could reduce the inflammatory cascade.
Date of Award2000
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorPeter Lambert (Supervisor)


  • bacterial lung infections
  • cystic fibrosis

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