NEW JERSEY MEDICAL SCHOOL NEWARK NEWARK United States
Bdellovibrio bacteriovorus and Micavibrio aeruginosavorus are predatory bacteria that naturally and obligately prey on other Gram-negative bacteria, and their use has been proposed as a potential new approach to control microbial infection. The ability of predatory bacteria to prey on Gram-negative human pathogens in vitro is well documented however, the in vivo safety and efficacy of predatory bacteria have yet to be fully assessed. In this study, we examined whether predatory bacteria can reduce bacterial burden in the lungs in an in vivo mammalian system. Initial safety studies were performed by intranasal inoculation of rats with predatory bacteria. No adverse effects or lung pathology were observed in rats exposed to high concentrations of predatory bacteria at up to 10 days post inoculation. Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay ELISA of the immune response revealed a slight increase in inflammatory cytokine levels at 1 h postinoculation that was not sustained by 48 h. Additionally, dissemination experiments showed that predators were efficiently cleared from the host by 10 days postinoculation. To measure the ability of predatory bacteria to reduce microbial burden in vivo, we introduced sublethal concentrations of Klebsiella pneumoniae into the lungs of rats via intranasal inoculation and followed with multiple doses of predatory bacteria over24 h. Predatory bacteria were able to reduce K. pneumoniae bacterial burden, on average, by more than 3.0 log10 in the lungs of most rats as measured by CFU plating. The work presented here provides further support for the idea of developing predatory bacteria as a novel biocontrol agent.