Mucoid, mucA mutant Pseudomonas aeruginosa cause chronic lung infections in cystic fibrosis (CF) patients and are refractory to phagocytosis and antibiotics. Here we show that mucoid bacteria perish during anaerobic exposure to 15 mM nitrite (NO2–) at pH 6.5, which mimics CF airway mucus. Killing required a pH lower than 7, implicating formation of nitrous acid (HNO2) and NO, that adds NO equivalents to cellular molecules. Eighty-seven percent of CF isolates possessed mucA mutations and were killed by HNO2 (3-log reduction in 4 days). Furthermore, antibiotic-resistant strains determined were also equally sensitive to HNO2. More importantly, HNO2 killed mucoid bacteria (a) in anaerobic biofilms; (b) in vitro in ultrasupernatants of airway secretions derived from explanted CF patient lungs; and (c) in mouse lungs in vivo in a pH-dependent fashion, with no organisms remaining after daily exposure to HNO2 for 16 days. HNO2 at these levels of acidity and NO2– also had no adverse effects on cultured human airway epithelia in vitro. In summary, selective killing by HNO2 may provide novel insights into the important clinical goal of eradicating mucoid P. aeruginosa from the CF airways.
Sang Sun Yoon, Ray Coakley, Gee W. Lau, Sergei V. Lymar, Benjamin Gaston, Ahmet C. Karabulut, Robert F. Hennigan, Sung-Hei Hwang, Garry Buettner, Michael J. Schurr, Joel E. Mortensen, Jane L. Burns, David Speert, Richard C. Boucher, Daniel J. Hassett
Guidelines: The Editorial Board will only consider letters that we deem relevant and of interest to our readers. We will not post data that have not been subjected to peer review, nor will we post letters that are essentially a reiteration of another letter. We reserve the right to edit any letter for length, content, and clarity. Authors will be notified by e-mail if their letters were accepted. No appeals will be considered.
Specific requirements: All letters must be 400 words or fewer. You may enter the letter as plain text or HTML. The author's name and e-mail address are required, and will be posted with the letter. All possible conflicts of interest must be noted, even if they are not posted. If you wish to include a figure (keep in mind that non-peer-reviewed data will not be posted), please contact the editors directly at email@example.com.