Research Topic

Immune Response to Biofilms

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Since the pioneering work of Bill Costerton, it has become evident that biofilm-associated infections encompass the large majority of infections in the human body. Many chronic infections including otitis media, rhinosinusitis, periodontal disease, prostatitis, lung infections in cystic fibrosis patients, ...

Since the pioneering work of Bill Costerton, it has become evident that biofilm-associated infections encompass the large majority of infections in the human body. Many chronic infections including otitis media, rhinosinusitis, periodontal disease, prostatitis, lung infections in cystic fibrosis patients, recurrent urinary tract infections, and skin infections may be attributed to the formation of biofilms on host tissues. Not less important with regard to biofilm formation are the infections associated with the use of medical devices on which microorganisms can adhere, proliferate and eventually spread to other body sites. Despite the recognized importance of biofilms in medicine, our understanding of the human immune response to biofilms is still preliminary. While host responses have evolved efficient and complex mechanisms to deal with isolated, planktonic microorganisms, the same mechanisms do not seem to be equally efficient to tackle aggregates of microbial cells forming a biofilm that, rather, displays a high capacity to resist the clearance by host innate and adaptive immune responses.

A deep knowledge of the multiple interactions between biofilms and the immune system is critical to adequately address biofilm infections. The present Research Topic aims to gather a collection of papers addressing the immune response to bacterial/fungal biofilms. Special interest will be devoted to studies elucidating basic immune pathways possibly contributing to a protective immune response to biofilms, but also to the sophisticated mechanisms exploited by biofilm cells to evade such response. Biofilm-forming microorganisms are structurally and metabolically different as compared to their planktonic counterpart. Typically, they are embedded in a complex mixture of extracellular polymeric substances (EPS) they themselves produce that includes polysaccharides, proteins, lipid and extracellular DNA. Recent research has elucidated that EPS components may represent a source of biofilm specific antigens able to exert immunemodulating properties. The composition of EPS may greatly differ between a microbial species and even between strains within the same species, thus adding complexity to the elucidation of host immune responses to biofilm constituents. Identification of biofilm-specific antigens “seen” by host immune cells, as well as quantitative measurements of the host responses to biofilms, may help in identifying new anti-biofilm immunotherapeutic strategies as well as biomarkers of biofilm-associated infections.

The scope of this Research Topic is to provide a comprehensive overview of the actual knowledge of the host immune response to microbial biofilms. We seek Original Research, Review, Mini-Review, Hypothesis and Theory, Perspective, Clinical Trial and Case Report articles that cover, but are not limited to, the following topics:

• The role of innate immunity in host response to microbial biofilms
• The role of acquired immunity in host response to microbial biofilms • Identification of biofilm-specific ligand-receptor interactions during host defense
• In vitro and in vivo models/techniques to study the immunity to biofilms
• Immunotherapeutic approaches against biofilms
• Host responses promoting biofilms


Keywords: biofilm, biofilm infections, innate immune response, acquired immune response


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