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  1. Free, publicly-accessible full text available November 1, 2023
  2. Bonomo, Robert A. (Ed.)
    ABSTRACT Streptococcus agalactiae , also known as group B Streptococcus (GBS), is a Gram-positive encapsulated bacterium that colonizes the gastrointestinal tract of 30 to 50% of humans. GBS causes invasive infection during pregnancy that can lead to chorioamnionitis, funisitis, preterm prelabor rupture of membranes (PPROM), preterm birth, neonatal sepsis, and maternal and fetal demise. Upon infecting the host, GBS encounters sentinel innate immune cells, such as macrophages, within reproductive tissues. Once phagocytosed by macrophages, GBS upregulates the expression of the gene npx , which encodes an NADH peroxidase. GBS mutants with an npx deletion (Δ npx ) are exquisitely sensitive to reactive oxygen stress. Furthermore, we have shown that npx is required for GBS survival in both THP-1 and placental macrophages. In an in vivo murine model of ascending GBS vaginal infection during pregnancy, npx is required for invading reproductive tissues and is critical for inducing disease progression, including PPROM and preterm birth. Reproductive tissue cytokine production was also significantly diminished in Δ npx mutant-infected animals compared to that in animals infected with wild-type (WT) GBS. Complementation in trans reversed this phenotype, indicating that npx is critical for GBS survival and the initiation of proinflammatory signaling in the gravid host.more »IMPORTANCE This study sheds new light on the way that group B Streptococcus (GBS) defends itself against oxidative stress in the infected host. The enzyme encoded by the GBS gene npx is an NADH peroxidase that, our study reveals, provides defense against macrophage-derived reactive oxygen stress and facilitates infections of the uterus during pregnancy. This enzyme could represent a tractable target for future treatment strategies against invasive GBS infections.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 20, 2023
  3. Abstract Perinatal infection with Streptococcus agalactiae , or Group B Streptococcus (GBS), is associated with preterm birth, neonatal sepsis, and stillbirth. Here, we study the interactions of GBS with macrophages, essential sentinel immune cells that defend the gravid reproductive tract. Transcriptional analyses of GBS-macrophage co-cultures reveal enhanced expression of a gene encoding a putative metal resistance determinant, cadD . Deletion of cadD reduces GBS survival in macrophages, metal efflux, and resistance to metal toxicity. In a mouse model of ascending infection during pregnancy, the ΔcadD strain displays attenuated bacterial burden, inflammation, and cytokine production in gestational tissues. Furthermore, depletion of host macrophages alters cytokine expression and decreases GBS invasion in a cadD -dependent fashion. Our results indicate that GBS cadD plays an important role in metal detoxification, which promotes immune evasion and bacterial proliferation in the pregnant host.
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 1, 2023
  4. Group B Streptococcus (GBS) is one of the leading infection-related causes of adverse maternal and neonatal outcomes. This includes chorioamnionitis, which leads to preterm ruptures of membranes and can ultimately result in preterm or stillbirth. Infection can also lead to maternal and neonatal sepsis that may contribute to mortality. Currently, treatment for GBS infection include a bolus of intrapartum antibiotic prophylaxis to mothers testing positive for GBS colonization during late pregnancy. Lactoferrin is an antimicrobial peptide expressed in human breast milk, mucosal epithelia, and secondary granules of neutrophils. We previously demonstrated that lactoferrin possesses antimicrobial and antibiofilm properties against several strains of GBS. This is largely due to the ability of lactoferrin to bind and sequester iron. We expanded upon that study by assessing the effects of purified human breast milk lactoferrin against a panel of phenotypically and genetically diverse isolates of GBS. Of the 25 GBS isolates screened, lactoferrin reduced bacterial growth in 14 and biofilm formation in 21 strains. Stratifying the data, we observed that colonizing strains were more susceptible to the growth inhibition activity of lactoferrin than invasive isolates at lactoferrin concentrations between 250-750 µg/mL. Treatment with 750 µg/mL of lactoferrin resulted in differences in bacterial growthmore »and biofilm formation between discrete sequence types. Differences in bacterial growth were also observed between capsular serotypes 1a and III. Maternally isolated strains were more susceptible to lactoferrin with respect to bacterial growth, but not biofilm formation, compared to neonatal sepsis isolates. Finally, high biofilm forming GBS strains were more impacted by lactoferrin across all isolates tested. Taken together, this study demonstrates that lactoferrin possesses antimicrobial and antibiofilm properties against a wide range of GBS isolates, with maternally isolated colonizing strains being the most susceptible.« less
  5. Abstract

    Group BStreptococcus(GBS) is an encapsulated Gram‐positive bacterial pathogen that causes severe perinatal infections. Human milk oligosaccharides (HMOs) are short‐chain sugars that have recently been shown to possess antimicrobial and anti‐biofilm activity against a variety of bacterial pathogens, including GBS. We have expanded these studies to demonstrate that HMOs can inhibit and dismantle biofilm in both invasive and colonizing strains of GBS. A cohort of 30 diverse strains of GBS were analyzed for susceptibility to HMO‐dependent biofilm inhibition or destruction. HMOs were significantly effective at inhibiting biofilm in capsular‐type‐ and sequence‐type‐specific fashion, with significant efficacy in CpsIb, CpsII, CpsIII, CpsV, and CpsVI strains as well as ST‐1, ST‐12, ST‐19, and ST‐23 strains. Interestingly, CpsIa as well as ST‐7 and ST‐17 were not susceptible to the anti‐biofilm activity of HMOs, underscoring the strain‐specific effects of these important antimicrobial molecules against the perinatal pathogenStreptococcus agalactiae.

    Free, publicly-accessible full text available January 9, 2024