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A microfluidic platform for rapid, stress-induced antibiotic susceptibility testing of Staphylococcus aureus

: Kalashnikov, M.; Lee, J.C.; Campbell, J.; Sharon, A.; Sauer-Budge, A.F.


LAB on a chip 12 (2012), No.21, pp.4523-4532
ISSN: 1473-0197
ISSN: 1473-0189
Journal Article
Fraunhofer IPT ()

The emergence and spread of bacterial resistance to ever increasing classes of antibiotics intensifies the need for fast phenotype-based clinical tests for determining antibiotic susceptibility. Standard susceptibility testing relies on the passive observation of bacterial growth inhibition in the presence of antibiotics. In this paper, we present a novel microfluidic platform for antibiotic susceptibility testing based on stress-activation of biosynthetic pathways that are the primary targets of antibiotics. We chose Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) as a model system due to its clinical importance, and we selected bacterial cell wall biosynthesis as the primary target of both stress and antibiotic. Enzymatic and mechanical stresses were used to damage the bacterial cell wall, and a beta-lactam antibiotic interfered with the repair process, resulting in rapid cell death of strains that harbor no resistance mechanism. In contrast, resistant bacteria remained viable under the assay conditions. Bacteria, covalently-bound to the bottom of the microfluidic channel, were subjected to mechanical shear stress created by flowing culture media through the microfluidic channel and to enzymatic stress with sub-inhibitory concentrations of the bactericidal agent lysostaphin. Bacterial cell death was monitored via fluorescence using the Sytox Green dead cell stain, and rates of killing were measured for the bacterial samples in the presence and absence of oxacillin. Using model susceptible (Sanger 476) and resistant (MW2) S. aureus strains, a metric was established to separate susceptible and resistant staphylococci based on normalized fluorescence values after 60 min of exposure to stress and antibiotic. Because this ground-breaking approach is not based on standard methodology, it circumvents the need for minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC) measurements and long wait times. We demonstrate the successful development of a rapid microfluidic-based and stress-activated antibiotic susceptibility test by correctly designating the phenotypes of 16 additional clinically relevant S. aureus strains in a blinded study. In addition to future clinical utility, this method has great potential for studying the effects of various stresses on bacteria and their antibiotic susceptibility.