Treatment of microbial biofilms in the post-antibiotic era: prophylactic and therapeutic use of antimicrobial peptides and their design by bioinformatics tools

Pathog Dis. 2014 Apr;70(3):257-70. doi: 10.1111/2049-632X.12151. Epub 2014 Mar 7.


The treatment for biofilm infections is particularly challenging because bacteria in these conditions become refractory to antibiotic drugs. The reduced effectiveness of current therapies spurs research for the identification of novel molecules endowed with antimicrobial activities and new mechanisms of antibiofilm action. Antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) have been receiving increasing attention as potential therapeutic agents, because they represent a novel class of antibiotics with a wide spectrum of activity and a low rate in inducing bacterial resistance. Over the past decades, a large number of naturally occurring AMPs have been identified or predicted from various organisms as effector molecules of the innate immune system playing a crucial role in the first line of defense. Recent studies have shown the ability of some AMPs to act against microbial biofilms, in particular during early phases of biofilm development. Here, we provide a review of the antimicrobial peptides tested on biofilms, highlighting their advantages and disadvantages for prophylactic and therapeutic applications. In addition, we describe the strategies and methods for de novo design of potentially active AMPs and discuss how informatics and computational tools may be exploited to improve antibiofilm effectiveness.

Keywords: AMP modeling and design; antibiotic resistance; antimicrobial peptides; biofilm simulations; microbial biofilm; surface coating.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Infective Agents / pharmacology*
  • Anti-Infective Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Antibiotic Prophylaxis
  • Antimicrobial Cationic Peptides / classification
  • Antimicrobial Cationic Peptides / pharmacology
  • Antimicrobial Cationic Peptides / therapeutic use
  • Biofilms / drug effects*
  • Computational Biology / methods
  • Drug Design
  • Drug Resistance, Microbial
  • Humans
  • Microbiota / drug effects*


  • Anti-Infective Agents
  • Antimicrobial Cationic Peptides