The virulent capacity of Pseudomonas aeruginosa can largely be ascribed to quorum sensing, i.e. the ability to evade host defence by a coordinated production and secretion of virulence factors. When P. aeruginosa is harboured in chronic wounds, a non-healing condition is often observed. In this study, we examined the in vitro cellular responses of the major cell types of re-epithelialization to supernatants of P. aeruginosa wild-type or an isogenic mutant not expressing quorum sensing-regulated virulence genes. We observed impairment of cell migration in keratinocytes (p = 0.009) and fibroblasts (p = 0.043) when supplementing medium with 20% P. aeruginosa culture supernatants. Cell proliferation was not significantly reduced, except for keratinocytes (p = 0.040). Data show compliance with in vivo observations of proliferating, non-motile epithelial cell behaviour in bacterially contaminated chronic wounds. Our findings suggest that quorum sensing may serve as an interesting target for controlling P. aeruginosa virulence in modern wound care.
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