Bioelectric effect and bacterial biofilms. A systematic review

Int J Artif Organs. 2008 Sep;31(9):786-95. doi: 10.1177/039139880803100906.


Bacteria growing in biofilms cause a wide range of human infections. Biofilm bacteria are resistant to antimicrobics at levels 500 to 5,000 times higher than those needed to kill non-biofilm bacteria. In vitro experiments have shown that electric current can enhance the activity of some antimicrobial agents against certain bacteria in biofilms; this has been termed the ''bioelectric effect''. Direct electrical current has already been safely used in humans for fracture healing. Application of direct electric current with antimicrobial chemotherapy in humans could theoretically abrogate the need to remove the device in device-related infections, a procedure associated with substantial morbidity and cost. In this article, we review what has been described in the literature with regards to the bioelectric effect.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Infective Agents / pharmacology*
  • Biofilms / drug effects*
  • Biofilms / growth & development
  • Drug Resistance, Bacterial
  • Electricity
  • Humans
  • Quorum Sensing / drug effects*


  • Anti-Infective Agents