PLOS ONE: An Eye to a Kill: Using Predatory Bacteria to Control Gram-Negative Pathogens Associated with Ocular Infections

Ocular infections are a leading cause of vision loss. It has been previously suggested that predatory prokaryotes might be used as live antibiotics to control infections. In this study,Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Serratia marcescens ocular isolates were exposed to the predatory bacteria Micavibrio aeruginosavorus and Bdellovibrio bacteriovorus. All tested S. marcescens isolates were susceptible to predation by B. bacteriovorus strains 109J and HD100. Seven of the 10 P. aeruginosa isolates were susceptible to predation by B. bacteriovorus 109J with 80% being attacked by M. aeruginosavorus. All of the 19 tested isolates were found to be sensitive to at least one predator. To further investigate the effect of the predators on eukaryotic cells, human corneal-limbal epithelial (HCLE) cells were exposed to high concentrations of the predators. Cytotoxicity assays demonstrated that predatory bacteria do not damage ocular surface cells in vitro whereas the P. aeruginosa used as a positive control was highly toxic. Furthermore, no increase in the production of the proinflammatory cytokines IL-8 and TNF-alpha was measured in HCLE cells after exposure to the predators. Finally, injection of high concentration of predatory bacteria into the hemocoel ofGalleria mellonella, an established model system used to study microbial pathogenesis, did not result in any measurable negative effect to the host. Our results suggest that predatory bacteria could be considered in the near future as a safe topical bio-control agent to treat ocular infections.

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