Emergence of resistance to biocides during differentiation of Acanthamoeba castellanii

J Antimicrob Chemother. 2000 Jul;46(1):27-34. doi: 10.1093/jac/46.1.27.


A synchronous encystment method was used to study the order of development of resistance of Acanthamoeba castellanii to a range of biocides. The emerging resistance during encystation to short-term exposure to the minimum amoebicidal concentrations of each biocide tested was recorded during the first 36 h of the differentiation process. Hydrochloric acid and moist heat were tested as possible resistance markers. Development of the acid-insoluble, proteincontaining, ectocyst wall and the cellulose endocyst wall was followed by quantification of the acid- and alkali-insoluble residues of cell samples removed from synchronous encystment cultures up to 36 h. Resistance to chemical agents (polyhexamethylene biguanide, benzalkonium chloride, propamidine isethionate, pentamidine isethionate, dibromopropamidine isethionate, hydrogen peroxide) and to moist heat was seen to develop between 14 and 24 h after trophozoites were inoculated into the encystment media. Resistance to hydrochloric acid developed between 0 and 2 h and to chlorhexidine diacetate between 24 and 36 h. Levels of acid-insoluble residues began to increase after 8 h and alkali-insoluble residues (cellulose) were detected after 16 h and coincided with the emergence of resistance to all the agents tested except hydrochloric acid. The results suggest that resistance to the biocides tested probably results largely from the physical barrier of the cyst walls rather than as a consequence of a metabolically dormant cyst.

MeSH terms

  • Acanthamoeba / drug effects*
  • Amebicides / pharmacology*
  • Animals
  • Benzalkonium Compounds / pharmacology
  • Benzamidines / pharmacology
  • Chlorhexidine / pharmacology
  • Disinfectants / pharmacology*
  • Drug Resistance
  • Hydrogen Peroxide / pharmacology
  • Pentamidine / pharmacology


  • Amebicides
  • Benzalkonium Compounds
  • Benzamidines
  • Disinfectants
  • dibrompropamidine
  • Pentamidine
  • propamidine isethionate
  • Hydrogen Peroxide
  • Chlorhexidine