Inhibitory effect of the human liver-derived antimicrobial peptide hepcidin 20 on biofilms of polysaccharide intercellular adhesin (PIA)-positive and PIA-negative strains of Staphylococcus epidermidis

Biofouling. 2014;30(4):435-46. doi: 10.1080/08927014.2014.888062. Epub 2014 Mar 19.


Staphylococcus epidermidis plays a major role in biofilm-related medical device infections. Herein the anti-biofilm activity of the human liver-derived antimicrobial peptide hepcidin 20 (hep20) was evaluated against polysaccharide intercellular adhesin (PIA)-positive and PIA-negative clinical isolates of S. epidermidis. Hep20 markedly inhibited biofilm formation and bacterial cell metabolism of PIA-positive and PIA-negative strains, but the decrease in biofilm biomass only partially correlated with a decrease in viable bacteria. Confocal microscope images revealed that, in the presence of hep20, both PIA-positive and PIA-negative strains formed biofilms with altered architectures and reduced amounts of extracellular matrix. Co-incubation of hep20 with vancomycin produced no synergistic effect, evaluated as number of viable cells, both in preventing biofilm formation and in treating preformed biofilms. In contrast, biofilms obtained in the presence of hep20, and then exposed to vancomycin, displayed an increased susceptibility to vancomycin. These results suggest that hep20 may inhibit the production/accumulation of biofilm extracellular matrix.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Infective Agents / pharmacology*
  • Biofilms / drug effects*
  • Hepcidins / pharmacology*
  • Humans
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
  • Microscopy, Confocal
  • Peptide Fragments / pharmacology*
  • Polysaccharides, Bacterial / physiology*
  • Staphylococcus epidermidis / drug effects
  • Staphylococcus epidermidis / genetics
  • Staphylococcus epidermidis / physiology*
  • Vancomycin / pharmacology


  • Anti-Infective Agents
  • Hepcidins
  • Peptide Fragments
  • Polysaccharides, Bacterial
  • hepcidin (6-25), human
  • polysaccharide intercellular adhesin
  • Vancomycin