New approaches for treating staphylococcal biofilm infections

Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2011 Dec;1241:104-21. doi: 10.1111/j.1749-6632.2011.06281.x.


Bacteria of the genus Staphylococcus are a prominent cause of acute and chronic infections. The ability of the staphylococci to establish biofilms has been linked to the persistence of chronic infections, which has drawn considerable interest from researchers over the past decade. Biofilms can be defined as sessile communities of surface-attached cells encased in an extracellular matrix, and treatment of bacteria in this mode of growth is challenging due to the resistance of biofilm structures to both antimicrobials and host defenses. In this review of the literature, we introduce Staphylococcus aureus and Staphylococcus epidermidis biofilms and summarize current antibiotic treatment approaches for staphylococcal biofilm infections. We also review recent studies on alternative strategies for preventing biofilm formation and dispersing established biofilms, including matrix-degrading enzymes, small-molecule approaches, and manipulation of natural staphylococcal disassembly mechanisms. While research on staphylococcal biofilm development is still in its early stages, new discoveries in the field hold promise for improved therapies that target staphylococcal biofilm infections.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use
  • Biofilms / drug effects*
  • Catheter-Related Infections / drug therapy
  • Catheter-Related Infections / microbiology
  • Enzyme Therapy
  • Humans
  • Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus / drug effects
  • Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus / physiology
  • Nucleic Acid Synthesis Inhibitors / therapeutic use
  • Prosthesis-Related Infections / drug therapy
  • Prosthesis-Related Infections / microbiology
  • Protein Synthesis Inhibitors / therapeutic use
  • Quorum Sensing / drug effects
  • Staphylococcal Infections / drug therapy*
  • Staphylococcal Infections / microbiology
  • Staphylococcus aureus / drug effects
  • Staphylococcus aureus / physiology
  • Staphylococcus epidermidis / drug effects
  • Staphylococcus epidermidis / physiology
  • Tetracyclines / therapeutic use


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Nucleic Acid Synthesis Inhibitors
  • Protein Synthesis Inhibitors
  • Tetracyclines