Infective endocarditis (IE) is associated with high morbidity and mortality rates. The predominant bacteria causing IE is Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus), which can bind to existing thrombi on heart valves and generate vegetations (biofilms). In this in vitro flow study, we evaluated sonobactericide as a novel strategy to treat IE, using ultrasound and an ultrasound contrast agent with or without other therapeutics. We developed a model of IE biofilm using human whole-blood clots infected with patient-derived S. aureus (infected clots). Histology and live-cell imaging revealed a biofilm layer of fibrin-embedded living Staphylococci around a dense erythrocyte core. Infected clots were treated under flow for 30 minutes and degradation was assessed by time-lapse microscopy imaging. Treatments consisted of either continuous plasma flow alone or with different combinations of therapeutics: oxacillin (antibiotic), recombinant tissue plasminogen activator (rt-PA; thrombolytic), intermittent continuous-wave low-frequency ultrasound (120-kHz, 0.44 MPa peak-to-peak pressure), and an ultrasound contrast agent (Definity). Infected clots exposed to the combination of oxacillin, rt-PA, ultrasound, and Definity achieved 99.3 ± 1.7% loss, which was greater than the other treatment arms. Effluent size measurements suggested low likelihood of emboli formation. These results support the continued investigation of sonobactericide as a therapeutic strategy for IE.

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Journal Scientific Reports
Lattwein, K.R, Shekhar, H. (Himanshu), van Wamel, W.J.B, Gonzalez, T. (Tammy), Herr, A.B. (Andrew B.), Holland, C.K, & Kooiman, K. (2018). An in vitro proof-of-principle study of sonobactericide. Scientific Reports, 8(1). doi:10.1038/s41598-018-21648-8