The use of cellulase in inhibiting biofilm formation from organisms commonly found on medical implants

Biofouling. 2003 Apr;19(2):77-85. doi: 10.1080/0892701021000030142.


A study was made of the use of cellulase to inhibit biofilm formation by a pathogenic bacterium commonly found in medical implants. A Pseudomonas aeruginosa biofilm was grown on glass slides in a parallel flow chamber for 4 d with glucose as the nutrient source. Biofilm development was assessed by measuring the colony forming units (CFU) and biomass areal density. Biofilm was grown at pH 5 and 7 in the presence of three different cellulase concentrations, 9.4, 37.6 and 75.2 units ml-1. In addition, a control study using deactivated cellulase was performed. The results show that cellulase is effective in partially inhibiting biomass and CFU formation by P. aeruginosa on glass surfaces. The effect of cellulase depended on concentration and was more effective at pH 5 than pH 7. The experiment was further extended by investigating the effect of cellulase on the apparent molecular weight of purified P. aeruginosa exopolysaccharides (EPS). The observation of EPS using size exclusion chromatography showed a decrease in apparent molecular weight when incubated with enzyme. An increase in the amount of reducing sugar with time when the purified EPS were incubated with enzyme also supports the hypothesis that cellulase degrades the EPS of P. aeruginosa. While cellulase does not provide total inhibition of biofilm formation, it is possible that the enzyme could be used in combination with other treatments or in combinations with other enzymes to increase effectiveness.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Biofilms / drug effects*
  • Biofilms / growth & development*
  • Biomass
  • Cellulase / pharmacology*
  • Chromatography
  • Colony Count, Microbial
  • Glass
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
  • Polysaccharides, Bacterial / isolation & purification
  • Prostheses and Implants / microbiology
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa / physiology*


  • Polysaccharides, Bacterial
  • exopolysaccharide, Pseudomonas
  • Cellulase