Increasing antibiotic resistance in preservative-tolerant bacterial strains isolated from cosmetic products

Int Microbiol. 2015 Mar;18(1):51-9. doi: 10.2436/20.1501.01.234.


To ensure the microbiological quality, consumer safety and organoleptic properties of cosmetic products, manufacturers need to comply with defined standards using several preservatives and disinfectants. A drawback regarding the use of these preservatives is the possibility of generating cross-insusceptibility to other disinfectants or preservatives, as well as cross resistance to antibiotics. Therefore, the objective of this study was to understand the adaptive mechanisms of Enterobacter gergoviae, Pseudomonas putida and Burkholderia cepacia that are involved in recurrent contamination in cosmetic products containing preservatives. Diminished susceptibility to formaldehyde-donors was detected in isolates but not to other preservatives commonly used in the cosmetics industry, although increasing resistance to different antibiotics (β-lactams, quinolones, rifampicin, and tetracycline) was demonstrated in these strains when compared with the wild-type strain. The outer membrane protein modifications and efflux mechanism activities responsible for the resistance trait were evaluated. The development of antibiotic-resistant microorganisms due to the selective pressure from preservatives included in cosmetic products could be a risk for the emergence and spread of bacterial resistance in the environment. Nevertheless, the large contribution of disinfection and preservation cannot be denied in cosmetic products.

Keywords: Burkholderia; Pseudomonas; antibiotics; cosmetic preservatives; cross-resistance.

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / pharmacology*
  • Burkholderia / drug effects*
  • Burkholderia / isolation & purification
  • Cosmetics / standards*
  • Drug Resistance, Bacterial*
  • Enterobacter / drug effects*
  • Humans
  • Microbial Sensitivity Tests
  • Preservatives, Pharmaceutical / pharmacology
  • Pseudomonas / drug effects*
  • Pseudomonas / isolation & purification


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Cosmetics
  • Preservatives, Pharmaceutical