Biofilm deficiency in polysaccharide intercellular adhesin-negative variants of Staphylococcus epidermidis selected by subminimal inhibitory concentrations of gentamicin.
ABSTRACT Staphylococcus epidermidis is a cause of orthopedic device-related infection, and to treat such infection, biofilms should be controlled. Polysaccharide intercellular adhesin (PIA) is associated with the biofilm-forming ability of staphylococcal strains. PIA in biofilm-positive staphylococcal strains can be detected by the Congo red agar (CRA) method. In this study, we used the CRA method to examine the effects of subminimal inhibitory concentrations (sub-MICs) of 11 antibacterial agents on PIA production by S. epidermidis. We found that the PIA-negative variants were selected only by sub-MICs of gentamicin (GM). This PIA-negative phenotype was maintained over several generations in the absence of GM. Such selection occurred in six of eight clinical isolates, as well as in the biofilm-positive control strain. No such selection occurred with aminoglycoside antibiotics except for GM. Most of the PIA-negative variants that were selected by GM showed a markedly lower biofilm-forming ability on stainless steel washers than their untreated parent strains. In conclusion, variants with lower biofilm-forming ability may be selected by a sub-MIC of GM. Investigation of the reason why variants with reduced biofilm-forming ability can be selected in the presence of sub-MICs of GM may contribute to strategies against biofilm-related infections.