Research – The Role of Biofilms in the Pathogenesis of Animal Bacterial Infections



Biofilms are bacterial aggregates embedded in a self-produced, protective matrix. The biofilm lifestyle offers resilience to external threats such as the immune system, antimicrobials, and other treatments. It is therefore not surprising that biofilms have been observed to be present in a number of bacterial infections. This review describes biofilm-associated bacterial infections in most body systems of husbandry animals, including fish, as well as in sport and companion animals. The biofilms have been observed in the auditory, cardiovascular, central nervous, digestive, integumentary, reproductive, respiratory, urinary, and visual system. A number of potential roles that biofilms can play in disease pathogenesis are also described. Biofilms can induce or regulate local inflammation. For some bacterial species, biofilms appear to facilitate intracellular invasion. Biofilms can also obstruct the healing process by acting as a physical barrier. The long-term protection of bacteria in biofilms can contribute to chronic subclinical infections, Furthermore, a biofilm already present may be used by other pathogens to avoid elimination by the immune system. This review shows the importance of acknowledging the role of biofilms in animal bacterial infections, as this influences both diagnostic procedures and treatment.

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