Disarming pore-forming toxins with biomimetic nanosponges in intraocular infections

Phillip S. Coburn, Frederick C. Miller, Austin L. LaGrow, Craig Land, Huzzatul Mursalin, Erin Livingston, Omar Amayem, Yijie Chen, Weiwei Gao, Liangfang Zhang, Michelle C. Callegan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


Intraocular infections are prevalent after traumatic injuries or after common ocular surgeries. Infections cause inflammation that can damage the retina and architecture of the eye, often resulting in poor visual outcomes. Severe cases may result in blindness or require enucleation of the eye. Treatments for intraocular infections include intravitreal antibiotics and corticosteroids or surgical vitrectomy in serious cases. The increase in multidrug-resistant infections calls for novel treatment options. In the present study, a biomimetic erythrocyte-derived nanosponge was tested for the ability to neutralize pore-forming toxins from the most frequent Gram-positive bacterial causes of intraocular infections (Staphylococcus aureus, Enterococcus faecalis, Streptococcus pneumoniae, and Bacillus cereus). Nanosponge pretreatment of supernatants reduced hemolytic activity in vitro. In a murine sterile endophthalmitis model, nanosponge pretreatment of injected supernatants resulted in greater retinal function and less ocular pathology compared to that in eyes injected with untreated supernatants from all pathogens except methicillin-resistant S. aureus. In a murine bacterial endophthalmitis model, treatment with gatifloxacin and gatifloxacin-nanosponges reduced intraocular bacterial burdens, except in the case of methicillin-sensitive S. aureus. For all pathogens, eyes in both treatment groups showed decreased ocular pathology and inflammation. Overall, reductions in retinal function loss afforded by gatifloxacin-nanosponge treatment were significant for E. faecalis, S. pneumoniae, and methicillin-resistant S. aureus but not for B. cereus and methicillin-sensitive S. aureus. These results suggest that clinical improvements in intraocular infections following nanosponge treatment were dependent on the complexity and types of toxins produced. Nanosponges might serve as an adjunctive therapy for the treatment of ocular infections.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere00262-19
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 May 2019


  • Antibiotic
  • Endophthalmitis
  • Eye
  • Infection
  • Nanoparticle


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