A recent literature review by researchers at the University of Louisville School of Dentistry summarises the link between smoking and “biofilm formation in several important human pathogens, including Staphylococcus aureus, Streptococcus mutans, Klebsiella pneumonia, Porphyromonas gingivalis and Pseudomonas aeruginosa.”
David A. Scott, PhD, and his team in Louisville reviewed the “mechanisms underlying this phenomenon and the relevance to increased susceptibility to infectious disease in smokers and to treatment”.
Plaque is one of the most common biofilms; but smoking also promotes biofilm in other parts of the body—such as heart valves—causing myriad diseases.
“Once a pathogen establishes itself within a biofilm, it can be difficult to eradicate as biofilms provide a physical barrier against the host immune response, can be impermeable to antibiotics and act as a reservoir for persistent infection,” said Scott. “Furthermore, biofilms allow for the transfer of genetic material among the bacterial community and this can lead to antibiotic resistance and the propagation of other virulence factors that promote infection.
“We are continuing research to understand the interactions of the elaborate communities within biofilms and how they relate to disease. Many studies have investigated biofilms using single species, but more relevant multispecies models are emerging. Novel treatments for biofilm-induced diseases also are being investigated, but we have a long way to go.”