Biofilms and human health

Biotechnol Lett. 2016 Jan;38(1):1-22. doi: 10.1007/s10529-015-1960-8. Epub 2015 Sep 19.


A biofilm can be defined as a surface-attached (sessile) community of microorganisms embedded and growing in a self-produced matrix of extracellular polymeric substances. These biofilm communities can be found in medical, industrial and natural environments, and can also be engineered in vitro for various biotechnological applications. Biofilms play a significant role in the transmission and persistence of human disease especially for diseases associated with inert surfaces, including medical devices for internal or external use. Biofilm infections on implants or in-dwelling devices are difficult to eradicate because of their much better protection against macrophages and antibiotics, compared to free living cells, leading to severe clinical complications often with lethal outcome. Recent developments in nanotechnology have provided novel approaches to preventing and dispersing biofilm related infections and potentially providing a novel method for fighting infections that is nondrug related.

Keywords: Biofilm; Indwelling medical devices; Nanobiotechnology; Quorum sensing.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Infective Agents / pharmacology*
  • Anti-Infective Agents / therapeutic use
  • Biofilms / drug effects*
  • Catheter-Related Infections / microbiology
  • Humans
  • Nanostructures / therapeutic use
  • Prosthesis-Related Infections / microbiology
  • Prosthesis-Related Infections / prevention & control*
  • Quorum Sensing / drug effects


  • Anti-Infective Agents