- Gram-negative bacteria in the Proteobacteria phylum.
- Pseudomonas aeruginosa are normal flora in the human gastrointestinal (GI) tract, which on occasion cause GI tract infection.
Pseudomonas aeruginosa is a member of the GammaProteobacteria class of Bacteria. It is a Gram-negative, aerobic rod belonging to the bacterial family Pseudomonadaceae.
Like other members of the genus, Pseudomonas aeruginosa is a free-living bacterium, commonly found in soil and water. However, it occurs regularly on the surfaces of plants and occasionally on the surfaces of animals. Members of the genus are well known to plant microbiologists because they are one of the few groups of bacteria that are true pathogens of plants. In fact, Pseudomonas aeruginosa is occasionally a pathogen of plants. However, Pseudomonas aeruginosa has become increasingly recognized as an emerging opportunistic pathogen of clinical relevance. Several different epidemiological studies track its occurrence as a nosocomial pathogen and indicate that antibiotic resistance is increasing in clinical isolates.
Pseudomonas aeruginosa is an opportunistic pathogen, meaning that it exploits some break in the host defenses to initiate an infection. In fact, Pseudomonas aeruginosa is the epitome of an opportunistic pathogen of humans. The bacterium almost never infects uncompromised tissues, yet there is hardly any tissue that it cannot infect if the tissue defenses are compromised in some manner. It causes urinary tract infections, respiratory system infections, dermatitis, soft tissue infections, bacteremia, bone and joint infections, gastrointestinal infections and a variety of systemic infections, particularly in patients with severe burns and in cancer and AIDS patients who are immunosuppressed. Pseudomonas aeruginosa infection is a serious problem in patients hospitalized with cancer, cystic fibrosis, and burns.
Pseudomonas aeruginosa is a Gram-negative rod measuring 0.5 to 0.8 µm by 1.5 to 3.0 µm. Almost all strains are motile by means of a single polar flagellum.
The bacterium is ubiquitous in soil and water, and on surfaces in contact with soil or water. Its metabolism is respiratory and never fermentative, but it will grow in the absence of O2 if NO3 is available as a respiratory electron acceptor.
The typical Pseudomonas bacterium in nature might be found in a biofilm, attached to some surface or substrate, or in a planktonic form, as a unicellular organism, actively swimming by means of its flagellum. Pseudomonas is one of the most vigorous, fast-swimming bacteria seen in hay infusions and pond water samples.
- Pseudomonas aeruginosa has very simple nutritional requirements. It is often observed "growing in distilled water", which is evidence of its minimal nutritional needs. In the laboratory, the simplest medium for growth of Pseudomonas aeruginosa consists of acetate as a source of carbon and ammonium sulfate as a source of nitrogen.
- P. aeruginosa possesses the metabolic versatility for which pseudomonads are so renowned. Organic growth factors are not required, and it can use more than seventy-five organic compounds for growth.
- Its optimum temperature for growth is 37 degrees, and it is able to grow at temperatures as high as 42 degrees.
- It is tolerant to a wide variety of physical conditions, including temperature. It is resistant to high concentrations of salts and dyes, weak antiseptics, and many commonly used antibiotics.
- Pseudomonas aeruginosa has a predilection for growth in moist environments, which is probably a reflection of its natural existence in soil and water.
These natural properties of the bacterium undoubtedly contribute to its ecological success as an opportunistic pathogen. They also help explain the ubiquitous nature of the organism and its prominence as a nosocomial pathogen.
High levels of Pseudomonas aeruginosa may indicate increased intestinal inflammatory activity and may cause abdominal cramping and loose stools. Some strains of P. aeroginosa may produce toxins that can damage cells.
Pseudomonas species are gram-negative bacteria found widely in the environment. Pseudomonas aeruginosa is the most common species causing infection and can affect every portion of the intestine.
In the gastrointestinal tract it can cause:
- epithelial barrier dysfunction,
- tight cell junction interruption,
and intestinal permeability.
This bacterium exhibits enhanced virulence with stress, trauma, surgery, and cancer.
Symptoms of enteric (=affecting the intestines )infection include:
- abdominal distention (=enlarged, swollen),
- and physical findings of Shanghai fever (=associated with sepsis caused by Pseudomonas aeruginosa).[L]
The infection usually affects young children and adults with hematologic malignancies (=cancers that begin in the cells of blood-forming tissue) and neutropenia (=abnormally low concentration of neutrophils in the blood).
Outside the GI tract, it can cause urinary tract infections, dermatitis, bacteremia, bone and joint, respiratory, and systemic infections especially in immune-compromised individuals.
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