Biomarkers for infection: enzymes, microbes, and metabolites

Appl Microbiol Biotechnol. 2015 Jun;99(11):4595-614. doi: 10.1007/s00253-015-6637-7. Epub 2015 May 9.


Wound infection is a severe complication causing delayed healing and risks for patients. Conventional methods of diagnosis for infection involve error-prone clinical description of the wound and time-consuming microbiological tests. More reliable alternatives are still rare, except for invasive and unaffordable gold standard methods. This review discusses the diversity of new approaches for wound infection determination. There has been progress in the detection methods of microorganisms, including the assessment of the diversity of the bacterial community present in a wound, as well as in the elaboration of specific markers. Another interesting strategy involves the quantification of enzyme activities in the wound fluid secreted by the immune system as response to infection. Color-changing substrates for these enzymes consequently have been shown to allow detection of an infection in wounds in a fast and easy way. Promising results were also delivered in measuring pH changes or detecting enhanced amounts of volatile molecules in case of infection. A simple and effective infection detection tool is not yet on the market, but innovative ideas pave the way for the investigation of fast and easy point-of-care devices.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bacteria / isolation & purification
  • Biomarkers / analysis*
  • Enzymes / analysis
  • Humans
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
  • Point-of-Care Systems
  • Wound Infection / diagnosis*
  • Wounds and Injuries / microbiology*
  • Wounds and Injuries / pathology*


  • Biomarkers
  • Enzymes