Biofilms complicate treatment of Staphylococcus aureus (SA) wound infections. Previously, we determined alpha-toxin (AT)-promoted SA biofilm formation on mucosal tissue. Therefore, we evaluated SA wound isolates for AT production and biofilm formation on epithelium and assessed the role of AT in biofilm formation. Thirty-eight wound isolates were molecularly typed by pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE), multilocus sequence typing (ST), and spa typing. We measured biofilm formation of these SA isolates in vitro and ex vivo and quantified ex vivo AT production. We also investigated the effect of an anti-AT monoclonal antibody (MEDI4893*) on ex vivo biofilm formation by methicillin-resistant SA (USA 300 LAC) and tested whether purified AT rescued the biofilm defect of hla mutant SA strains. The predominant PFGE/ST combinations were USA100/ST5 (50%) and USA300/ST8 (33%) for methicillin-resistant SA (MRSA, n = 18), and USA200/ST30 (20%) for methicillin-susceptible SA (MSSA, n = 20). Ex vivo AT production correlated significantly with ex vivo SA wound isolate biofilm formation. Anti-alpha-toxin monoclonal antibody (MEDI4893*) prevented ex vivo biofilm formation by MRSA USA300 strain LAC. Wild-type AT rescued the ex vivo biofilm defect of non-AT producing SA strains. These findings provide evidence that AT plays a role in SA biofilm formation on epithelial surfaces and suggest that neutralization of AT may be useful in preventing and treating SA infections.

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