Adherence, anti-adherence, and oligosaccharides preventing pathogens from sticking to the host

Adv Food Nutr Res. 2009;55:101-61. doi: 10.1016/S1043-4526(08)00402-6.


For many pathogenic bacteria, infections are initiated only after the organism has first adhered to the host cell surface. If adherence can be inhibited, then the subsequent infection can also be inhibited. This approach forms the basis of anti-adherence strategies, which have been devised to prevent a variety of bacterial infections. In this chapter, the molecular basis by which respiratory, urinary, and gastrointestinal tract pathogens adhere to host cells will be described. The five general types of anti-adherence agents will also be reviewed. The most well-studied are the receptor analogs, which include oligosaccharides produced synthetically or derived from natural sources, including milk, berries, and other plants. Their ability to inhibit pathogen adherence may lead to development of novel, food-grade anti-infective agents that are inexpensive and safe.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adhesins, Bacterial / physiology*
  • Anti-Infective Agents / pharmacology
  • Bacteria / pathogenicity*
  • Bacterial Adhesion / drug effects
  • Bacterial Adhesion / physiology*
  • Bacterial Infections / microbiology*
  • Bacterial Infections / prevention & control
  • Bacterial Physiological Phenomena
  • Host-Pathogen Interactions
  • Humans
  • Membrane Glycoproteins / physiology
  • Oligosaccharides / pharmacology*
  • Receptors, Cell Surface / physiology*
  • Species Specificity


  • Adhesins, Bacterial
  • Anti-Infective Agents
  • Membrane Glycoproteins
  • Oligosaccharides
  • Receptors, Cell Surface