Joint antibiotic and phage therapy: addressing the limitations of a seemingly ideal phage for treating Staphylococcus aureus infections

Abstract In response to increasing frequencies of antibiotic-resistant pathogens, there has been a resurrection of interest in the use of bacteriophage to treat bacterial infections: phage therapy. Here we explore the potential of a seemingly ideal phage, PYOSa, for combination phage and antibiotic treatment of Staphylococcus aureus infections. (i) This K-like phage has a broad host range; all 83 tested clinical isolates of S.aureus tested were susceptible to PYOSa. (ii) Because of the mode of action of PYOSaS. aureus is unlikely to generate classical receptor-site mutants resistant to PYOSa; none were observed in the 13 clinical isolates tested. (iii) PYOSa kills S. aureus at high rates. On the downside, the results of our experiments and tests of the joint action of PYOSa and antibiotics raise issues that must be addressed before PYOSa is employed clinically. Despite the maintenance of the phage, PYOSa does not clear the populations of S. aureus. Due to the ascent of a phenotypically diverse array of small colony variants following an initial demise, the bacterial populations return to densities similar to that of phage-free controls. Using a combination of mathematical modeling and in vitro experiments, we postulate and present evidence for a mechanism to account for the demise–resurrection dynamics of PYOSa and S. aureus. Critically for phage therapy, our experimental results suggest that treatment with PYOSa followed by bactericidal antibiotics can clear populations of S. aureus more effectively than the antibiotics alone.Significance Statement The increasing frequency of antibiotic-resistant pathogens has fostered a quest for alternative means to treat bacterial infections. Prominent in this quest is a therapy that predates antibiotics: bacteriophage. This study explores the potential of a phage, PYOSa, for treating Staphylococcus aureus infections in combination with antibiotics. On first consideration, this phage, isolated from a commercial therapeutic cocktail, seems ideal for this purpose. The results of this population dynamic and genomic analysis study identify a potential liability of using PYOSa for therapy. Due to the production of potentially pathogenic atypical small colony variants, PYOSa alone cannot eliminate S. aureus populations. However, we demonstrate that by following the administration of PYOSa with bactericidal antibiotics, this limitation and potential liability can be addressed..

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Electronic Article

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Contained In: - (2020) vom: 12. Nov.




Berryhill, Brandon A. [Author]
Huseby, Douglas L. [Author]
McCall, Ingrid C. [Author]
Hughes, Diarmaid [Author]
Levin, Bruce R. [Author]


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