The in vitro effect of xylitol on chronic rhinosinusitis biofilms

Rhinology. 2016 Dec 1;54(4):323-328. doi: 10.4193/Rhino15.380.


Introduction: Biofilms have been implicated in chronic rhinosinusitis (CRS) and may explain the limited efficacy of antibiotics. There is a need to find more effective, non-antibiotic based therapies for CRS. This study examines the effects of xylitol on CRS biofilms and planktonic bacteria.

Methods: Crystal violet assay and spectrophotometry were used to quantify the effects of xylitol (5% and 10% solutions) against Staphylococcus epidermidis, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and Staphylococcus aureus. The disruption of established biofilms, inhibition of biofilm formation and effects on planktonic bacteria growth were investigated and compared to saline and no treatment.

Results: Xylitol 5% and 10% significantly reduced biofilm biomass (S. epidermidis), inhibited biofilm formation (S. aureus and P. aeruginosa) and reduced growth of planktonic bacteria (S. epidermidis, S. aureus, and P. aeruginosa). Xylitol 5% inhibited formation of S. epidermidis biofilms more effectively than xylitol 10%. Xylitol 10% reduced S. epidermidis planktonic bacteria more effectively than xylitol 5%. Saline, xylitol 5% and 10% disrupted established biofilms of S. aureus when compared with no treatment. No solution was effective against established P. aeruginosa biofilm.

Conclusions: Xylitol has variable activity against biofilms and planktonic bacteria in vitro and may have therapeutic efficacy in the management of CRS.

MeSH terms

  • Biofilms / drug effects*
  • Biofilms / growth & development
  • Chronic Disease
  • Gentian Violet
  • Humans
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa / drug effects*
  • Rhinitis / microbiology*
  • Sinusitis / microbiology*
  • Sodium Chloride
  • Spectrophotometry
  • Staphylococcus aureus / drug effects*
  • Staphylococcus epidermidis / drug effects*
  • Xylitol / pharmacology*


  • Sodium Chloride
  • Gentian Violet
  • Xylitol