Antimicrobial peptides and their interaction with biofilms of medically relevant bacteria

Biochim Biophys Acta. 2016 May;1858(5):1044-60. doi: 10.1016/j.bbamem.2015.10.013. Epub 2015 Oct 23.


Biofilm-associated infections represent one of the major threats of modern medicine. Biofilm-forming bacteria are encased in a complex mixture of extracellular polymeric substances (EPS) and acquire properties that render them highly tolerant to conventional antibiotics and host immune response. Therefore, there is a pressing demand of new drugs active against microbial biofilms. In this regard, antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) represent an option taken increasingly in consideration. After dissecting the peculiar biofilm features that may greatly affect the development of new antibiofilm drugs, the present article provides a general overview of the rationale behind the use of AMPs against biofilms of medically relevant bacteria and on the possible mechanisms of AMP-antibiofilm activity. An analysis of the interactions of AMPs with biofilm components, especially those constituting the EPS, and the obstacles and/or opportunities that may arise from such interactions in the development of new AMP-based antibiofilm strategies is also presented and discussed. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled: Antimicrobial Peptides edited by Karl Lohner and Kai Hilpert.

Keywords: Antibiofilm drugs; Antimicrobial peptides; Biofilm; Biofilm exopolysaccharides; Biofilm matrix; Biofilm proteins; Extracellular DNA.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antimicrobial Cationic Peptides / biosynthesis
  • Antimicrobial Cationic Peptides / chemical synthesis
  • Antimicrobial Cationic Peptides / pharmacology*
  • Bacterial Infections / drug therapy
  • Bacterial Infections / microbiology
  • Bacterial Proteins / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Bacterial Proteins / chemistry
  • Biofilms / drug effects*
  • Biofilms / growth & development
  • Cell Membrane / chemistry
  • Cell Membrane / drug effects*
  • Cell Membrane / metabolism
  • Cell Wall / chemistry
  • Cell Wall / drug effects*
  • Cell Wall / metabolism
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Drug Design
  • Gram-Negative Bacteria / chemistry
  • Gram-Negative Bacteria / drug effects*
  • Gram-Negative Bacteria / growth & development
  • Gram-Positive Bacteria / chemistry
  • Gram-Positive Bacteria / drug effects*
  • Gram-Positive Bacteria / growth & development
  • Humans
  • Microbial Sensitivity Tests
  • Polysaccharides, Bacterial / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Polysaccharides, Bacterial / chemistry
  • Structure-Activity Relationship


  • Antimicrobial Cationic Peptides
  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Polysaccharides, Bacterial