H J Nelis

Ghent University, Gand, Flanders, Belgium

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Publications (205)546.38 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Encapsulation of antibiotics into nanoparticles is a potential strategy to eradicate biofilms. To allow further optimization of nanomedicines for biofilm eradication, the influence of the nanoparticle size on the penetration into dense biofilm clusters needs to be investigated. In the present study, the penetration of nanoparticles with diameters ranging from 40 to 550nm into two biofilms, Burkholderia multivorans LMG 18825 and Pseudomonas aeruginosa LMG 27622, was evaluated using confocal microscopy. Through image analysis, the percentage of particles able to penetrate into dense biofilm clusters was calculated. The size cut off for optimal penetration into biofilm clusters was located around 100 - 130nm for both biofilms. The mesh size of the biofilm matrix and the size of the channels in between the bacteria of the clusters are two factors which likely play a role in the exclusion of the larger particles. For B. multivorans, a sharp drop in the penetration into the clusters is seen for particles larger than 130nm while for P. aeruginosa, a more gradual decrease in penetration could be observed. The overall penetration of the nanoparticles was slightly lower for P. aeruginosa than for B. multivorans. Based on these results, it could be concluded that nanocarriers of about 100nm and smaller are good candidates to improve the treatment of chronic pulmonary biofilms in CF patients. Furthermore, the confocal microscopy method demonstrated here is a useful tool to assess the penetration of nanomedicines in biofilm clusters. Such information is important to optimize nanomedicine formulations for the treatment of biofilm infections.
    Journal of controlled release : official journal of the Controlled Release Society. 08/2014;
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    ABSTRACT: Biofilms are involved in the recalcitrance of infections due to the presence of persister cells. Although the molecular basis of persistence is still largely unknown, toxin antitoxin-modules (TA) are thought to play a role in this process. In this study, we investigated whether TA-modules contribute to persistence towards antibiotics in B. cenocepacia J2315. 16 pairs of genes were identified based on their apparent similarity to TA-modules. Overexpression of the putative toxins had various effects on growth, persistence and biofilm formation. Toxins, whose overexpression resulted in growth inhibition, often increased the number of surviving persisters; in contrast, overexpression of putative toxins showing no effects on growth, had no positive influence on the number of surviving persisters. Furthermore, the expression of the TA-modules was compared between treated and untreated sessile and planktonic WT cultures. For 10 toxin encoding genes, the expression was higher in untreated sessile cells than in untreated planktonic cells. Nine toxin encoding genes were upregulated after treatment with tobramycin, but none after treatment with ciprofloxacin. These results indicate that most, but not all TA-modules contribute to persistence in B. cenocepacia J2315 and that this contribution depends on the mode of growth and the antibiotic used. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
    Pathogens and disease. 04/2014;
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    ABSTRACT: Microbial biofilms are a serious threat to human health. Recent studies have indicated that many clinically relevant biofilms are polymicrobial. In the present study, multispecies biofilms were grown in a reproducible manner in a 96-well microtiter plate. The efficacy of nine commercially available disinfectants against Staphylococcus aureus, Candida albicans, and Pseudomonas aeruginosa in multispecies biofilms was determined and compared. The results showed that the direction and the magnitude of the effect in a multispecies biofilm depend on the strain and the disinfectant used and challenge the common belief that organisms in multispecies biofilms are always less susceptible than in monospecies biofilms.
    Biofouling 02/2014; · 3.40 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Due to the resistance of Staphylococcus aureus to several antibiotics, treatment of S. aureus infections is often difficult. As an alternative to conventional antibiotics, the field of bacterial interference is investigated. Staphylococcus epidermidis produces a serine protease (Esp) which inhibits S. aureus biofilm formation and which degrades S. aureus biofilms. In this study, we investigated the protease production of 114 S. epidermidis isolates, obtained from biofilms on endotracheal tubes (ET). Most of the S. epidermidis isolates secreted a mixture of serine, cysteine and metalloproteases. We found a link between high protease production by S. epidermidis and the absence of S. aureus in ET biofilms obtained from the same patient. Treating S. aureus biofilms with the supernatant (SN) of the most active protease producing S. epidermidis isolates resulted in a significant biomass decrease compared to untreated controls, while the number of metabolically active cells was not affected. The effect on the biofilm biomass was mainly due to serine proteases. S. aureus biofilms treated with the SN of protease producing S. epidermidis were thinner with almost no extracellular matrix. An increased survival of Caenorhabditis elegans, infected with S. aureus Mu50, was observed when the SN of protease positive S. epidermidis was added. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
    Pathogens and disease. 01/2014;
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    ABSTRACT: In the present study we investigated the biotherapeutic potential of previously isolated quorum quenching (QQ) bacteria. Some of them produce and secrete small compounds that inhibit quorum sensing, others quench quorum sensing by enzymatic degradation of N-acylhomoserine lactones (AHLs). The supernatant of cultures of these isolates was tested for inhibitory properties against P. aeruginosa PAO1 biofilms. Most isolates had a moderate effect on biofilm formation, as shown by viability staining and/or staining of the biofilm biomass. A substantial part of the isolates reduced P. aeruginosa elastase production in a concentration dependent manner. Using C. elegans as an in vivo model system for virulence testing, we found that some of the isolates were able to increase survival of P. aeruginosa PAO1 and Burkholderia cenocepacia LGM16656 infected nematodes when co-administered with the pathogen. Altogether, these data indicate that some quorum quenching bacteria, or the active compounds they produce, could be useful to attenuate virulence of P. aeruginosa PAO1 and possibly also other Gram-negative pathogens that use AHLs to regulate the production of virulence factors. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
    Pathogens and disease. 01/2014;
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    ABSTRACT: Mechanically ventilated patients often develop ventilator-associated pneumonia (VAP). Soon after intubation, a mixed biofilm harboring microbial pathogens is formed on the endotracheal tube (ET). It is believed that this biofilm contributes to the development of VAP. Unfortunately, the causative agent is often not known at the time VAP is suspected, and early therapy often relies on the identification of surveillance cultures (SC). It is thus important to know whether these SC can predict the microbial flora in ET biofilms. In this study, we compare the presence of a number of antibiotic-resistant nosocomial bacteria (Enterobacter aerogenes, Escherichia coli, Micrococcus luteus, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Staphylococcus aureus, and Staphylococcus epidermidis) and of Candida albicans in cultures from ET biofilms and SC (i.e. sputum samples, nose swabs, and throat swabs) of 20 mechanically ventilated patients. Our data indicate that there is a good correlation between the presence of (antibiotic-resistant) pathogens in ET biofilms and SC.
    Pathogens and disease. 09/2013;
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    ABSTRACT: Infections related to fungal biofilms are difficult to treat due to the reduced susceptibility of sessile cells to most antifungal agents. Previous research has shown that 1% - 10% of sessile Candida cells survive treatment with high doses of miconazole (a fungicidal imidazole). The aim of this study was to identify genes involved in fungal biofilm formation and to unravel the mechanisms of resistance of these biofilms to miconazole. To this end, a screening of a Saccharomyces cerevisiae deletion mutant bank was carried out. Our results revealed that genes involved in peroxisomal transport and the biogenesis of the respiratory chain complex IV play an essential role in biofilm formation. On the other hand, genes involved in transcription and peroxisomal and mitochondrial organization seem to highly influence the susceptibility to miconazole of yeast biofilms. Additionally, our data confirm previous findings on genes involved in biofilm formation and in general stress responses. Our data suggest the involvement of peroxisomes in biofilm formation and miconazole resistance in fungal biofilms. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
    FEMS Yeast Research 09/2013; · 2.46 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Burkholderia cepacia complex (Bcc) organisms produce a wide variety of potential virulence factors, including exopolysaccharides (EPS), and exhibit intrinsic resistance towards many antibiotics. In the present study we investigated the contribution of Bcc biofilm matrix components, including extracellular DNA, cepacian and poly-β-1,6-N-acetylglucosamine, to tobramycin susceptibility. The in vitro bactericidal activity of tobramycin in combination with recombinant human DNase (rhDNase), NaClO and dispersin B was tested against Bcc biofilms. EPS degradation by NaClO pretreatment and specific PNAG degradation by dispersin B significantly increased the bactericidal effect of tobramycin towards some of the Bcc biofilms tested, including the strains of Burkholderia cenocepacia, B. cepacia and Burkholderia metallica. The presence of rhDNase during biofilm treatment and/or development had no influence on tobramycin activity. These results suggest that EPS play a role in tobramycin susceptibility of Bcc biofilms and that matrix degrading combination therapy could improve treatment of Bcc biofilm infections.
    Journal of cystic fibrosis: official journal of the European Cystic Fibrosis Society 08/2013; · 3.19 Impact Factor
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    Bioorganic & Medicinal Chemistry. 05/2013; 21(9):2671.
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    ABSTRACT: AIMS: Although several factors contribute to wound healing, bacterial infections and presence of biofilms can significantly affect healing. Despite that this clearly indicates that therapies should address biofilms in wounds, only few wound care products have been evaluated for their anti-biofilm effect. For this reason we developed a rapid quantification approach to investigate the efficacy of wound care products on wounds infected with Staphylococcus spp. METHODS AND RESULTS: An in vitro chronic wound infection model was used in which a fluorescent S. aureus strain was used to allow the rapid quantification of the bacterial burden after treatment. A good correlation was observed between the fluorescence signal and the bacterial counts. When evaluated in this model, several commonly used wound dressings and wound care products inhibited biofilm formation resulting in a decrease between one and seven log CFU/biofilm compared to biofilm formed in the absence of products. In contrast, most dressings only moderately affected mature biofilms. CONCLUSION: Our model allowed the rapid quantification of the bacterial burden after treatment. However, the efficacy of treatment varied between the different types of dressings and/or wound care products. SIGNIFICANCE AND IMPACT OF THE STUDY: Our model can be used to compare the efficacy of wound care products to inhibit biofilm formation and/or eradicate mature biofilms. In addition, the results indicate that treatment of infected wounds should be started as soon as possible and that novel products with more potent anti-biofilm activity are needed. © 2013 The Authors Journal of Applied Microbiology © 2013 The Society for Applied Microbiology.
    Journal of Applied Microbiology 03/2013; · 2.20 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Due to the intrinsic resistance of Burkholderia cepacia complex (Bcc) to many antibiotics and the production of a broad range of virulence factors, lung infections by these bacteria, primarily occurring in cystic fibrosis (CF) patients, are very difficult to treat. In addition, the ability of Bcc organisms to form biofilms contributes to their persistence in the CF lung. As Bcc infections are associated with poor clinical outcome, there is an urgent need for new effective therapies to treat these infections. In the present study, we investigated whether liposomal tobramycin displayed an increased anti-biofilm effect against Bcc bacteria compared to free tobramycin. Single particle tracking (SPT) was used to study the transport of positively and negatively charged nanospheres in Bcc biofilms as a model for the transport of liposomes. Negatively charged nanospheres became immobilized in close proximity of biofilm cell clusters, while positively charged nanospheres interacted with fiber-like structures, probably eDNA. Based on these data, encapsulation of tobramycin in negatively charged liposomes appeared promising for targeted drug delivery. However, the anti-biofilm effect of tobramycin encapsulated into neutral or anionic liposomes did not increase compared to that of free tobramycin. Probably, the fusion of the anionic liposomes with the negatively charged bacterial surface of Bcc bacteria was limited by electrostatic repulsive forces. The lack of a substantial anti-biofilm effect of tobramycin encapsulated in neutral liposomes could be further investigated by increasing the liposomal tobramycin concentration. However, this was hampered by the low encapsulation efficiency of tobramycin in these liposomes.
    PLoS ONE 01/2013; 8(11):e79220. · 3.53 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The presence of persister cells has been proposed as a factor in biofilm resilience. In the present study we investigated whether persister cells are present in Burkholderia cepacia complex (Bcc) biofilms, what the molecular basis of antimicrobial tolerance in Bcc persisters is, and how persisters can be eradicated from Bcc biofilms. After treatment of Bcc biofilms with high concentrations of various antibiotics often a small subpopulation survived. To investigate the molecular mechanism of tolerance in this subpopulation, Burkholderia cenocepacia biofilms were treated with 1024 µg/ml of tobramycin. Using ROS-specific staining and flow cytometry, we showed that tobramycin increased ROS production in treated sessile cells. However, approximately 0.1% of all sessile cells survived the treatment. A transcriptome analysis showed that several genes from the tricarboxylic acid cycle and genes involved in the electron transport chain were downregulated. In contrast, genes from the glyoxylate shunt were upregulated. These data indicate that protection against ROS is important for the survival of persisters. To confirm this, we determined the number of persisters in biofilms formed by catalase mutants. The persister fraction in ΔkatA and ΔkatB biofilms was significantly reduced, confirming the role of ROS detoxification in persister survival. Pretreatment of B. cenocepacia biofilms with itaconate, an inhibitor of isocitrate lyase (ICL), the first enzyme in the glyoxylate shunt, reduced the persister fraction approx. 10-fold when the biofilms were subsequently treated with tobramycin. In conclusion, most Bcc biofilms contain a significant fraction of persisters that survive treatment with high doses of tobramycin. The surviving persister cells downregulate the TCA cycle to avoid production of ROS and at the same time activate an alternative pathway, the glyoxylate shunt. This pathway may present a novel target for combination therapy.
    PLoS ONE 01/2013; 8(3):e58943. · 3.53 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Export Date: 22 March 2013, Source: Scopus, Art. No.: e58943
    PLoS ONE 01/2013; 8(3). · 3.53 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Two focused libraries based on two types of compounds, that is, thiazolidinediones and dioxazaborocanes were designed. Structural resemblances can be found between thiazolidinediones and well-known furanone type quorum sensing (QS) inhibitors such as N-acylaminofuranones, and/or acyl-homoserine lactone signaling molecules, while dioxazaborocanes structurally resemble previously reported oxazaborolidine derivatives which antagonized autoinducer 2 (AI-2) binding to its receptor. Because of this, we hypothesized that these compounds could affect AI-2 QS in Vibrio harveyi. Although all compounds blocked QS, the thiazolidinediones were the most active AI-2 QS inhibitors, with EC(50) values in the low micromolar range. Their mechanism of inhibition was elucidated by measuring the effect on bioluminescence in a series of V. harveyi QS mutants and by DNA-binding assays with purified LuxR protein. The active compounds neither affected bioluminescence as such nor the production of AI-2. Instead, our results indicate that the thiazolidinediones blocked AI-2 QS in V. harveyi by decreasing the DNA-binding ability of LuxR. In addition, several dioxazaborocanes were found to block AI-2 QS by targeting LuxPQ.
    Bioorganic & medicinal chemistry 12/2012; · 2.82 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Aim: The aim of this study was to evaluate the effect of the surface functionalization of model nanoparticles on their mobility in bacterial biofilms and cystic fibrosis sputum. Materials & methods: With single-particle tracking microscopy, the mobility of 0.1 and 0.2 µm fluorescent polyethylene glycol (PEG) modified, carboxylate- and N,N-dimethylethylenediamine-modified polystyrene nanospheres were evaluated in fresh cystic fibrosis sputum, as well as Burkholderia multivorans and Pseudomonas aeruginosa biofilms. Results: PEGylation increased the mobility of the particles in sputum and biofilms, while the charged nanospheres were strongly immobilized. However, the transport of the PEGylated nanoparticles was lower in sputum compared with biofilms. Furthermore, the particle transport showed heterogeneity in samples originating from different patients. Conclusion: This study's data suggest that for future nanocarrier design it will be essential to combine PEGylation with a targeting moiety to ensure sufficient mobility in mucus and a better accumulation of the nanoparticles in the biofilm. Original submitted 14 February 2012; Revised submitted 24 July 2012.
    Nanomedicine 10/2012; · 5.26 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Acylhomoserine lactone (AHL) analogues in which the amide function is replaced by a triazole group were synthesized and evaluated for their effect on quorum sensing (QS) and biofilm formation in Burkholderia cenocepacia and Pseudomonas aeruginosa. In addition, the influence of the length of the acyl-mimicking chain was investigated. The compounds showed selectivity between two different AHL QS systems. 3-(1H-1,2,3-Triazol-1-yl)dihydrofuran-2(3H)-ones, in which the 4-substituent best resembled the acyl chain of the native AHL molecule exhibited significant QS agonistic and antagonistic activities. Replacing this aliphatic substituent by a phenyl-containing moiety resulted in active inhibitors of QS. The most active compounds showed biofilm inhibitory as well as biofilm eradicating activities in both test organisms.
    Bioorganic & medicinal chemistry 06/2012; 20(15):4737-43. · 2.82 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We investigated the molecular basis of the tolerance of Candida albicans biofilms to antifungals using the miconazole as a model compound, and translated the resulting data to other antifungals. Sessile cells of C. albicans Δefg1, lacking the transcription factor Efg1, showed increased susceptibility to miconazole, amphotericin B and caspofungin, whereas these sessile cells were equally resistant to fluconazole. The increased sensitivity to miconazole was, at least, partly due to an increased accumulation of miconazole in the cells as compared to wild-type or reintegrant Δefg1(EFG1) sessile cells. By using a rat biofilm model, we further confirmed the role of Efg1 in the tolerance of C. albicans biofilms to miconazole when grown in vivo.
    Journal of Medical Microbiology 03/2012; 61(Pt 6):813-9. · 2.30 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Propionibacterium acnes is a Gram-positive bacterium that plays an important role in the pathogenesis of acne vulgaris. This organism is capable of biofilm formation and the decreased antimicrobial susceptibility of biofilm-associated cells may hamper efficient treatment. In addition, the prolonged use of systemic antibiotic therapy is likely to lead to the development and spread of antimicrobial resistance. In the present study we investigated whether P. acnes biofilms could be eradicated by plant extracts or their active compounds, and whether other mechanisms besides killing of biofilm cells could be involved. Out of 119 plant extracts investigated, we identified five with potent antibiofilm activity against P. acnes (extracts from Epimedium brevicornum, Malus pumila, Polygonum cuspidatum, Rhodiola crenulata and Dolichos lablab). We subsequently identified icariin, resveratrol and salidroside as active compounds in three of these extracts. Extracts from E. brevicornum and P. cuspidatum, as well as their active compounds (icariin and resveratrol, respectively) showed marked antibiofilm activity when used in subinhibitory concentrations, indicating that killing of microbial cells is not their only mode of action.
    Phytomedicine: international journal of phytotherapy and phytopharmacology 03/2012; 19(5):409-12. · 2.97 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Previous research has shown that 1% to 10% of sessile Candida albicans cells survive treatment with high doses of miconazole (a fungicidal imidazole). In the present study, we investigated the involvement of sphingolipid biosynthetic intermediates in this survival. We observed that the LCB4 gene, coding for the enzyme that catalyzes the phosphorylation of dihydrosphingosine and phytosphingosine, is important in governing the miconazole resistance of sessile Saccharomyces cerevisiae and C. albicans cells. The addition of 10 nM phytosphingosine-1-phosphate (PHS-1-P) drastically reduced the intracellular miconazole concentration and significantly increased the miconazole resistance of a hypersusceptible C. albicans heterozygous LCB4/lcb4 mutant, indicating a protective effect of PHS-1-P against miconazole-induced cell death in sessile cells. At this concentration of PHS-1-P, we did not observe any effect on the fluidity of the cytoplasmic membrane. The protective effect of PHS-1-P was not observed when the efflux pumps were inhibited or when tested in a mutant without functional efflux systems. Also, the addition of PHS-1-P during miconazole treatment increased the expression levels of genes coding for efflux pumps, leading to the hypothesis that PHS-1-P acts as a signaling molecule and enhances the efflux of miconazole in sessile C. albicans cells.
    Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy 02/2012; 56(5):2290-4. · 4.57 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

2k Citations
546.38 Total Impact Points

Institutions

  • 1992–2014
    • Ghent University
      • • Laboratory of Microbiology
      • • Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences
      • • Department of Pharmaceutical Analysis
      Gand, Flanders, Belgium
  • 1981–2014
    • Universitair Ziekenhuis Ghent
      Gand, Flanders, Belgium
  • 2010
    • Universitair Ziekenhuis Leuven
      Louvain, Flanders, Belgium
    • University of Antwerp
      • Departement Farmaceutische Wetenschappen
      Antwerpen, VLG, Belgium