Biofilm – What is it?

STARTVAC® hinders the formation of Biofilm. The Biofilm also known as Slime is a layer of exopolysaccharides that surrounds the bacteria, enhancing their growth and resistance to antibiotics. STARTVAC® prevents the development of Biofilm and also favours contact with neutrophils, enabling the destruction of bacteria. Biofilm can be defined broadly as a dynamic and well structured microbial community, attached to a solid surface and aggregated by an extracellular matrix.

Biofilm resistance to antimicrobial agents may be due to difficulty in penetration of the antimicrobial agent through the extracellular matrix, to the decreased growth rate of biofilm cells (ß-lactam antibiotics are effective in Gram-positive cells that are actively dividing) or the existence of resistant phenotypes among a genetically heterogeneous population.

The contribution of biofilm to pathogenesis is attributed to its resistance to antibiotics and phagocytosis, thereby facilitating chronic infections. On the other hand, detachment of biofilm bacteria cells is a cause of septicaemia and new colonisations, while the production of endotoxins and exotoxins produce inflammation and tissue damage.

In bovine and ovine mastitis caused by staphylococci, bacterial cells attach to the epithelial cells of the mammary gland and grow into colonies surrounded by an extracellular matrix, thereby forming the biofilm. Because of its size, biofilm is not capable of being phagocytised by polymorphonuclear neutrophils or macrophages and, moreover, it confers resistance to antibiotics, thereby promoting the chronicity of infection.

The main defence mechanism of the mammary gland against infections is antibody-mediated opsonisation and subsequent phagocytosis by polymorphonuclear neutrophils. However, we must not exclude that the biofilm-specific antibodies also act in a direct manner in protection, binding to cells and preventing bacterial adherence to epithelium and intercellular interaction that leads to the formation of biofilm.