Scientific publications

Effect of electrical current on the activities of antimicrobial agents against Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Staphylococcus aureus, and Staphylococcus epidermidis biofilms

del Pozo JL [SP], Rouse MS, Mandrekar JN, Sampedro MF, Steckelberg JM, Patel R.
Department of Medicine,Infectious Diseases Research Laboratory, Division of Infectious Diseases, Mayo Clinic College of Medicine, Rochester, Minnesota 55905, USA

Magazine: Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy

Date: Jan 1, 2008

Clinical Microbiology [SP] Infectious Diseases [SP]


Bacterial biofilms are resistant to conventional antimicrobial agents. Prior in vitro studies have shown that electrical current (EC) enhances the activities of aminoglycosides, quinolones, and oxytetracycline against Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Klebsiella pneumoniae, Staphylococcus epidermidis, Escherichia coli, and Streptococcus gordonii. This phenomenon, known as the bioelectric effect, has been only partially defined.

The purpose of this work was to study the in vitro bioelectric effect on the activities of 11 antimicrobial agents representing a variety of different classes against P. aeruginosa, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), and S. epidermidis. An eight-channel current generator/controller and eight chambers delivering a continuous flow of fresh medium with or without antimicrobial agents and/or EC to biofilm-coated coupons were used. No significant decreases in the numbers of log(10) CFU/cm(2) were seen after exposure to antimicrobial agents alone, with the exception of a 4.57-log-unit reduction for S. epidermidis and trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole. We detected a statistically significant bioelectric effect when vancomycin plus 2,000 microamperes EC were used against MRSA biofilms (P = 0.04) and when daptomycin and erythromycin were used in combination with 200 or 2,000 microamperes EC against S. epidermidis biofilms (P = 0.02 and 0.0004, respectively).

The results of these experiments indicate that the enhancement of the activity of antimicrobial agents against biofilm organisms by EC is not a generalizable phenomenon across microorganisms and antimicrobial agents.

CITATION  Antimicrob Agents Chemother. 2009 Jan;53(1):35-40. Epub 2008 Aug 25



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