Bacteriolysis – a mere laboratory curiosity?
The role of bacteriolysis in the pathophysiology of microbial infections dates back to 1893 when Buchner and Pfeiffer reported for the first time the lysis of bacteria by immune serum and related this phenomenon to the immune response. Later on, basic anti-microbial peptides and certain beta-lactam antibiotics have been shown not only to kill microorganisms but also to induce bacteriolysis and the release of cell-wall components.
In 2009, a novel paradigm was offered suggesting that the main cause of death in sepsis is due to the exclusive release from activated human phagocytic neutrophils (PMNs) traps adhering upon endothelial cells of highly toxic nuclear histone. Since activated PMNs also release a plethora of pro-inflammatory agonists, it stands to reason that these may act in synergy with histone to damage cells. Since certain beta lactam antibiotics may induce bacteriolysis, it is questioned whether these may aggravate sepsis patient's condition. Enigmatically, since the term bacteriolysis and its possible involvement in sepsis is hardly ever mentioned in the extensive clinical articles and reviews dealing with critical care, we hereby aim to refresh the concept of bacteriolysis and its possible role in the pathogenesis of post infectious sequelae.