Research helps explain why MRSA takes hold post-implant surgery

Staphylococcus aureus, bacteria which commonly cause drug-resistant infections to take hold after prosthetic surgery, shield themselves inside of naturally occurring molecules to survive, according to research from the Journal of Leukocyte Biology.



The discovery, made by researchers from the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, could be an important step in determining how to prevent such infections from taking place, possibly by depriving Staph bacteria of the molecules they use to evade eradication.

"The immune system must balance killing of germs with limiting damage to normal tissues. The latter set of pathways often suppresses immune responses once germs have been eliminated. However, there are an amazing number of ways germs such as bacteria and viruses have exploited immune pathways to facilitate persistence and spread," John Wherry, PhD, deputy editor of the Journal of Leukocyte Biology. "This new work defines a new way that S. aureus may exploit one of these pathways opening the door for new therapeutics."

The researchers used a mouse model of MRSA to mimic the infection complications that arise post-joint replacement surgeries. Within the same mice, they engineered the cells that make the IL-10 molecule to produce a green light. They found nearly 70 percent of the infected cells lit up. The researchers then engineered mice that were unable to produce IL-10 and found they produced a larger number of cells important for killing bacteria at the infection site, reducing the amount of surviving Staph bacteria.

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