Tailored Liposomal Nanotraps for the Treatment of Streptococcal Infections
Background: Streptococcal infections are associated with life-threatening pneumonia and sepsis. The rise in antibiotic resistance calls for novel approaches to treat bacterial diseases. Anti-virulence strategies promote a natural way of pathogen clearance by eliminating the advantage provided to bacteria by their virulence factors. In contrast to antibiotics, anti-virulence agents are less likely to exert selective evolutionary pressure, which is a prerequisite for the development of drug
... pment of drug resistance. As part of their virulence mechanism, many bacterial pathogens secrete cytolytic exotoxins that destroy the host cell by destabilizing their plasma membrane. Liposomal nanotraps, mimicking plasmalemmal structures of host cells that are specifically targeted by bacterial toxins are being developed in order to neutralize - by competitive sequestration - numerous exotoxins. Results: In this study, the liposomal nanotrap technology is further developed to simultaneously neutralize the whole palette of cytolysins produced by Streptococcus pneumoniae, Streptococcus pyogenes and Streptococcus dysgalactiae subspecies equisimilis - pathogens that can cause life-threatening streptococcal toxic shock syndrome. We show that the mixture of liposomes containing high amounts of cholesterol and liposomes composed exclusively of choline-containing phospholipids is fully protective against the combined action of exotoxins secreted by these pathogens. Conclusions: Unravelling the universal mechanisms that define targeting of host cells by streptococcal cytolysins paves the way for a broad-spectrum anti-toxin therapy that can be applied without a diagnostic delay for the treatment of bacterial infections including those caused by antibiotic-resistant pathogens.