Pharmacological Inhibition of Quorum Sensing for the Treatment of Chronic Bacterial Infections

J Clin Invest. 2003 Nov;112(9):1300-7. doi: 10.1172/JCI20074.


Traditional treatment of infectious diseases is based on compounds that aim to kill or inhibit bacterial growth. A major concern with this approach is the frequently observed development of resistance to antimicrobial compounds. The discovery of bacterial-communication systems (quorum-sensing systems), which orchestrate important temporal events during the infection process, has afforded a novel opportunity to ameliorate bacterial infection by means other than growth inhibition. Compounds able to override bacterial signaling are present in nature. Herein we discuss the known signaling mechanisms and potential antipathogenic drugs that specifically target quorum-sensing systems in a manner unlikely to pose a selective pressure for the development of resistant mutants.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • 4-Butyrolactone / analogs & derivatives*
  • 4-Butyrolactone / antagonists & inhibitors
  • 4-Butyrolactone / physiology
  • Animals
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / pharmacology*
  • Bacterial Infections / drug therapy*
  • Biofilms
  • Chronic Disease
  • Furans / pharmacology
  • Humans
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects*


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Furans
  • homoserine lactone
  • 4-Butyrolactone