Burkholderia multivorans survival and trafficking within macrophages

Crystal L. Schmerk, Miguel A. Valvano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


Cystic fibrosis (CF) patients are at great risk of opportunistic lung infection, particularly by members of the Burkholderia cepacia complex (Bcc). This group of bacteria can cause damage to the lung tissue of infected patients and are difficult to eradicate due to their high levels of antibiotic resistance. Although the highly virulent Burkholderia cenocepacia has been the focus of virulence research for the past decade, Burkholderia multivorans is emerging as the most prevalent Bcc species infecting CF patients in North America. Despite several studies detailing the intramacrophage trafficking and survival of B. cenocepacia, no such data exist for B. multivorans. The results of this study demonstrated that the clinical CF isolates C5568 and C0514 and an environmental B. multivorans isolate, ATCC 17616, were able to replicate and survive within murine macrophages in a manner similar to that of B. cenocepacia strain K56-2. These strains were also able to survive but were unable to replicate within human THP-1 macrophages. Differences in macrophage uptake were observed among all three B. multivorans strains; these variances were attributed to major differences in O-antigen production. Unlike B. cenocepacia-containing vacuoles, which delay phagosomal maturation in murine macrophages by 6 h, all B. multivorans-containing vacuoles co-localized with lysosome-associated membrane protein-1, a late endosome/lysosomal marker, and the lysosomal marker dextran within 2 h of uptake. Together, these results indicated that, whilst both Bcc species were able to survive and replicate within macrophages, they utilized different intramacrophage survival strategies. To observe differences in virulence, the strains were compared using the Galleria mellonella (wax worm) model. When compared with the B. multivorans strains tested, B. cenocepacia K56-2 was highly virulent in this model and killed all worms within 24 h when injected at 107 c.f.u. B. multivorans clinical isolates C5568 and C0514 were significantly more virulent than the soil isolate ATCC 17616, which was avirulent even when worms were injected with 107 c.f.u. These results suggest strain differences in the virulence of B. multivorans isolates.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)173-184
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Medical Microbiology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 01 Feb 2013
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Microbiology


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