Antibacterial characteristics and activity of acid-soluble chitosan

Bioresour Technol. 2008 May;99(8):2806-14. doi: 10.1016/j.biortech.2007.06.044. Epub 2007 Aug 13.


The antibacterial activity of chitosan was investigated by assessing the mortality rates of Escherichia coli and Staphylococcus aureus based on the extent of damaged or missing cell walls and the degree of leakage of enzymes and nucleotides from different cellular locations. Chitosan was found to react with both the cell wall and the cell membrane, but not simultaneously, indicating that the inactivation of E. coli by chitosan occurs via a two-step sequential mechanism: an initial separation of the cell wall from its cell membrane, followed by destruction of the cell membrane. The similarity between the antibacterial profiles and patterns of chitosan and those of two control substances, polymyxin and EDTA, verified this mechanism. The antibacterial activity of chitosan could be altered by blocking the amino functionality through coupling of the chitosan to active agarose derivatives. These results verify the status of chitosan as a natural bactericide.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / pharmacology*
  • Cell Membrane / drug effects
  • Chitosan / chemistry
  • Chitosan / pharmacology*
  • Edetic Acid / pharmacology
  • Escherichia coli / drug effects*
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
  • Polymyxins / pharmacology
  • Solubility
  • Staphylococcus aureus / drug effects*


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Polymyxins
  • Chitosan
  • Edetic Acid