The complex comprises groups of genomovars (genotypically distinct strains with very similar phenotypes) that have emerged as important opportunistic pathogens in cystic fibrosis (CF) patients. The inflammatory response against bacteria in the airways of CF individuals is dominated by polymorphonuclear cells and involves the generation of oxidative stress, which leads to further inflammation and tissue damage. Bacterial catalase, catalase-peroxidase and superoxide dismutase activities may contribute to the survival of following exposure to reactive oxygen metabolites generated by host cells in response to infection. In the present study the authors investigated the production of catalase, peroxidase and SOD by isolates belonging to various genomovars of the complex. Production of both catalase and SOD was maximal during late stationary phase in almost all isolates examined. Native PAGE identified 13 catalase electrophoretotypes and two SOD electrophoretotypes (corresponding to an Fe-SOD class) in strains belonging to the six genomovars of the complex. Seven out of 11 strains displaying high-level survival after HO treatment had a bifunctional catalase/peroxidase, and included all the genomovar III strains examined. These isolates represent most of the epidemic isolates that are often associated with the cepacia syndrome. The majority of the isolates from all the genomovars were resistant to extracellular \(O_{2}^{{-}}\) , while resistance to intracellularly generated \(O_{2}^{{-}}\) was highly variable and could not be correlated with the detected levels of SOD activity. Altogether the results suggest that resistance to toxic oxygen metabolites from extracellular sources may be a factor involved in the persistence of in the airways of CF individuals.


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