Targeting the bacteria-host interface: strategies in anti-adhesion therapy

Virulence. 2013 May 15;4(4):284-94. doi: 10.4161/viru.24606.


Bacterial infections are a major cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide and are increasingly problematic to treat due to the rise in antibiotic-resistant strains. It becomes more and more challenging to develop new antimicrobials that are able to withstand the ever-increasing repertoire of bacterial resistance mechanisms. This necessitates the development of alternative approaches to prevent and treat bacterial infections. One of the first steps during bacterial infection is adhesion of the pathogen to host cells. A pathogen's ability to colonize and invade host tissues strictly depends on this process. Thus, interference with adhesion (anti-adhesion therapy) is an efficient way to prevent or treat bacterial infections. As a basis to present different strategies to interfere with pathogen adhesion, this review briefly introduces general concepts of bacterial attachment to host cells. We further discuss advantages and disadvantages of anti-adhesion treatments and issues that are in need of improvement so as to make anti-adhesion compounds a more broadly applicable alternative to conventional antimicrobials.

Keywords: anti-adhesion treatment; anti-adhesive; antimicrobial therapy; bacterial adhesion; host–pathogen interactions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / metabolism*
  • Bacteria / pathogenicity*
  • Bacterial Adhesion / drug effects*
  • Bacterial Vaccines / immunology*
  • Host-Pathogen Interactions*
  • Humans


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Bacterial Vaccines