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Bacterial cyanogenesis occurs in the cystic fibrosis lung

Sanderson, K, Wescombe, L, Kirov, SM, Champion, AC and Reid, DW 2008 , 'Bacterial cyanogenesis occurs in the cystic fibrosis lung' , European Respiratory Journal, vol. 32, no. 2 , pp. 329-333 , doi: 10.1183/09031936.00152407.

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The cystic fibrosis (CF) lung environment is poorly defined, but data suggest that bacteria may encounter reduced oxygen tensions and possibly an anaerobic environment. Pseudomonas aeruginosa produces the potent toxin cyanide under strictly microaerobic conditions. Evidence of bacterial cyanogenesis in the CF lung was investigated in the present study by measuring sputum cyanide concentrations.

Sputum cyanide was measured in seven stable CF patients, as well as before and after intravenous antibiotic therapy during a hospital admission in a further eight patients experiencing acute exacerbations. All patients were chronically infected with P. aeruginosa. Comparative sputum data were obtained from nine CF patients with no documented P. aeruginosa infection and 10 healthy, nonsmoking normal controls.

High levels of cyanide were detected in all the P. aeruginosa-infected stable CF patients (median (range) 0.56 (0.37–2.81) µg·mL–1), and in seven out of eight acute sputum samples (0.73 (0–1.43) µg·mL–1). In contrast, cyanide was not detectable in sputum from eight out of nine CF patients without P. aeruginosa infection or in any of the normal controls. Intravenous antibiotic treatment significantly reduced sputum cyanide levels (median 0.73 to median 0.0 µg·mL–1).

The cyanide detected indicates that the cystic fibrosis lung provides a predominantly microaerobic environment for Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Cyanide is likely to be a potentially important virulence factor in Pseudomonas aeruginosa-infected cystic fibrosis patients.

Item Type: Article
Authors/Creators:Sanderson, K and Wescombe, L and Kirov, SM and Champion, AC and Reid, DW
Keywords: Cyanide, microaerobic, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, pulmonary disease
Journal or Publication Title: European Respiratory Journal
ISSN: 0903-1936
DOI / ID Number: 10.1183/09031936.00152407
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© ERS Journals Ltd 2008

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