Tracking bismuth antiulcer drug uptake in single Helicobacter pylori cells

J Am Chem Soc. 2011 May 18;133(19):7355-7. doi: 10.1021/ja2013278. Epub 2011 Apr 25.


Bismuth-based drugs have long been used for the treatment of Helicobacter pylori infection. In this work, the metal content in H. pylori was monitored at the single-cell level by time-resolved inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry, and ∼2.9 × 10(7) Mg atoms/cell was determined for the wild-type. Bacteria treated with a Bi antiulcer drug deposited nearly 1.0 × 10(6) Bi atoms/cell, whereas the uptake process took ∼3 h to reach the half-maximum. Interference of ferric ions on bismuth uptake was demonstrated, suggesting that the metallodrug can utilize certain iron-transport pathways in the pathogen. The approach provides a general strategy for monitoring metals in single cells, facilitating exploration of metal-relevant bioprocesses.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Ulcer Agents / pharmacokinetics*
  • Biological Transport
  • Bismuth / pharmacokinetics*
  • Helicobacter pylori / metabolism*


  • Anti-Ulcer Agents
  • Bismuth