SPS-neutralization in tissue samples for efficacy testing of antimicrobial peptides

Gabrielle Sherella Dijksteel, Peter H Nibbering, Magda M W Ulrich, Esther Middelkoop, Bouke K H L Boekema

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BACKGROUND: Accurate determination of the efficacy of antimicrobial agents requires neutralization of residual antimicrobial activity in the samples before microbiological assessment of the number of surviving bacteria. Sodium polyanethol sulfonate (SPS) is a known neutralizer for the antimicrobial activity of aminoglycosides and polymyxins. In this study, we evaluated the ability of SPS to neutralize residual antimicrobial activity of antimicrobial peptides [SAAP-148 and pexiganan; 1% (wt/v) in PBS], antibiotics [mupirocin (Bactroban) and fusidic acid (Fucidin) in ointments; 2% (wt/wt))] and disinfectants [2% (wt/wt) silver sulfadiazine cream (SSD) and 0.5% (v/v) chlorhexidine in 70% alcohol].

METHODS: Homogenates of human skin models that had been exposed to various antimicrobial agents for 1 h were pipetted on top of Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) on agar plates to determine whether the antimicrobial agents display residual activity. To determine the optimal concentration of SPS for neutralization, antimicrobial agents were mixed with PBS or increasing doses of SPS in PBS (0.05-1% wt/v) and then 105 colony forming units (CFU)/mL MRSA were added. After 30 min incubation, the number of viable bacteria was assessed. Next, the in vitro efficacy of SAAP-148 against various gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria was determined using PBS or 0.05% (wt/v) SPS immediately after 30 min incubation of the mixture. Additionally, ex vivo excision wound models were inoculated with 105 CFU MRSA for 1 h and exposed to SAAP-148, pexiganan, chlorhexidine or PBS for 1 h. Subsequently, samples were homogenized in PBS or 0.05% (wt/v) SPS and the number of viable bacteria was assessed.

RESULTS: All tested antimicrobials displayed residual activity in tissue samples, resulting in a lower recovery of surviving bacteria on agar. SPS concentrations at ≥0.05% (wt/v) were able to neutralize the antimicrobial activity of SAAP-148, pexiganan and chlorhexidine, but not of SSD, Bactroban and Fucidin. Finally, SPS-neutralization in in vitro and ex vivo efficacy tests of SAAP-148, pexiganan and chlorhexidine against gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria resulted in significantly higher numbers of CFU compared to control samples without SPS-neutralization.

CONCLUSIONS: SPS was successfully used to neutralize residual activity of SAAP-148, pexiganan and chlorhexidine and this prevented an overestimation of their efficacy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1093
JournalBMC Infectious Diseases
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 30 Dec 2019


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents/pharmacology
  • Antimicrobial Cationic Peptides/pharmacology
  • Chlorhexidine/pharmacology
  • Disinfectants/pharmacology
  • Drug Discovery/methods
  • Epidermis/drug effects
  • Fusidic Acid/pharmacology
  • Gram-Negative Bacteria/drug effects
  • Humans
  • Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus/drug effects
  • Microbial Sensitivity Tests/methods
  • Mupirocin/pharmacology
  • Osmolar Concentration
  • Polyanetholesulfonate/chemistry

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