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Nanoscale Forces at the Heart of Staphylococcus Infections

  • Ruchirej Yongsunthon (a1), Francis Paul Vellano (a2), Brian H. Lower (a3), Vance G. Fowler (a4), Emily Alexander (a5) and Steven K. Lower (a6)...

Abstract

Staphylococcus aureus is one of the most frequently isolated bacteria from infected medical implants. S. aureus has the capacity to adhere to the surface of an implant where it forms a biofilm. We used atomic force microscopy to probe binding forces between a fibronectin-coated tip and isolates of S. aureus, which were obtained from either patients with infected prostheses or healthy humans. A unique force-signature was observed for binding events between the tip and the cells. There is a strong distinction (p=0.01) in the binding force-signature observed for S. aureus isolated from the infected vs. healthy populations. This observation suggests a fundamental correlation between nanometer scale binding forces and the clinical outcome of patients with implanted medical devices.

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