Bacterial biofilms can increase the pathogenicity of infection and constitute a major problem in modern health-care, especially on biomaterial implants and devices. Biofilms are difficult to eradicate by the host immune system, even with antibiotics, and have been the number one cause of biomaterial implant and device failure for decades. Therefore, it is important to understand how immune cells interact with adhering pathogens. This study firstly aims to develop a simple method to quantify phagocytosis of six different strains of staphylococci adhering on a surface with phase-contrast-microscopy. Phagocytosis of adhering staphylococci to a glass surface by phagocytes was quantified in a parallel plate flow chamber, and expressed as a phagocytosis rate, accounting for the number of adhering staphylococci initially present and for the duration of phagocytosis. Murine macrophages were more effective in clearing staphylococci from a surface than human phagocytes, which require differentiation from their monocyte or promyelocytic state during an experiment. Direct visualization of internalization of a GFP-modified S. aureus strain inside phagocytes confirmed the validity of the method proposed. As a second aim, the differences in phagocytosis rates observed were investigated on a surface thermodynamic basis using measured contact angles of liquids on macroscopic lawns of staphylococci and phagocytes, confirming that phagocytosis of adhering pathogens can be regarded as a surface phenomenon. In addition, surface thermodynamics revealed that phagocytosis of adhering pathogens is determined by an interplay of physical attraction between pathogens and phagocytes and the influence of chemo-attractants. For future studies, these results will help to place in vitro experiments and murine infection models in better perspective with respect to human ones. © 2013 da Silva Domingues et al.
da Silva Domingues, J. F., van der Mei, H. C., Busscher, H. J., & van Kooten, T. G. (2013). Phagocytosis of Bacteria Adhering to a Biomaterial Surface in a Surface Thermodynamic Perspective. PLoS ONE, 8(7). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0070046