Antibacterial and antifungal properties of human cerumen

J Laryngol Otol. 2009 Apr;123(4):375-8. doi: 10.1017/S0022215108003307. Epub 2008 Aug 11.


Objective: To assess the antibacterial and antifungal properties of human cerumen by studying its effect on the growth of Staphylococcus aureus, Esherichia coli, Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Candida albicans.

Materials and methods: Cerumen samples were collected from 75 normal, healthy subjects aged from seven to 80 years, without ear pathology, who attended the ear, nose and throat out-patient clinic of the University Malaya Medical Center from May 2006 to October 2006. Of these 75 samples, 31 had no growth when cultured on nutrient agar. Inhibition studies on these 31 samples were performed for Staphylococcus aureus (American Type Culture Collection (ATCC) 25923), Esherichia coli (ATCC 25922), Pseudomonas aeruginosa (ATCC 27853) and Candida albicans. Nutrient agar was used to conserve all three bacterial strains and Sabouraud dextrose agar was used for Candida albicans.

Results: A decrease in Staphylococcus aureus growth was observed for 27 of the 31 samples. All 31 samples induced decreased growth of Pseudomonas aeruginosa, while 29 induced decreased growth of Candida albicans. However, only four samples induced decreased growth of Escherichia coli.

Conclusions: Cerumen was demonstrated to have potential antimicrobial effects on strains of Staphylococcus aureus, Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Candida albicans.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Candida albicans / growth & development*
  • Cerumen / microbiology
  • Cerumen / physiology*
  • Child
  • Colony Count, Microbial
  • Ear, External / microbiology*
  • Escherichia coli / growth & development*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Microbial Sensitivity Tests
  • Middle Aged
  • Otitis Externa / prevention & control
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa / growth & development*
  • Staphylococcus aureus / growth & development*
  • Young Adult