D-Amino acids inhibit biofilm formation in Staphylococcus epidermidis strains from ocular infections

J Med Microbiol. 2014 Oct;63(Pt 10):1369-1376. doi: 10.1099/jmm.0.075796-0. Epub 2014 Jul 7.


Biofilm formation on medical and surgical devices is a major virulence determinant for Staphylococcus epidermidis. The bacterium S. epidermidis is able to produce biofilms on biotic and abiotic surfaces and is the cause of ocular infection (OI). Recent studies have shown that d-amino acids inhibit and disrupt biofilm formation in the prototype strains Bacillus subtilis NCBI3610 and Staphylococcus aureus SCO1. The effect of d-amino acids on S. epidermidis biofilm formation has yet to be tested for clinical or commensal isolates. S. epidermidis strains isolated from healthy skin (n = 3), conjunctiva (n = 9) and OI (n = 19) were treated with d-Leu, d-Tyr, d-Pro, d-Phe, d-Met or d-Ala and tested for biofilm formation. The presence of d-amino acids during biofilm formation resulted in a variety of patterns. Some strains were sensitive to all amino acids tested, while others were sensitive to one or more, and one strain was resistant to all of them when added individually; in this way d-Met inhibited most of the strains (26/31), followed by d-Phe (21/31). Additionally, the use of d-Met inhibited biofilm formation on a contact lens. The use of l-isomers caused no defect in biofilm formation in all strains tested. In contrast, when biofilms were already formed d-Met, d-Phe and d-Pro were able to disrupt it. In summary, here we demonstrated the inhibitory effect of d-amino acids on biofilm formation in S. epidermidis. Moreover, we showed, for the first time, that S. epidermidis clinical strains have a different sensitivity to these compounds during biofilm formation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acids / metabolism*
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / metabolism*
  • Biofilms / drug effects*
  • Biofilms / growth & development
  • Eye Infections / microbiology*
  • Humans
  • Staphylococcal Infections / microbiology*
  • Staphylococcus epidermidis / drug effects*
  • Staphylococcus epidermidis / growth & development
  • Staphylococcus epidermidis / isolation & purification
  • Staphylococcus epidermidis / physiology*


  • Amino Acids
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents