Ethyl Pyruvate: An Anti-Microbial Agent that Selectively Targets Pathobionts and Biofilms

PLoS One. 2016 Sep 22;11(9):e0162919. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0162919. eCollection 2016.


The microbiota has a strong influence on health and disease in humans. A causative shift favoring pathobionts is strongly linked to diseases. Therefore, anti-microbial agents selectively targeting potential pathogens as well as their biofilms are urgently demanded. Here we demonstrate the impact of ethyl pyruvate, so far known as ROS scavenger and anti-inflammatory agent, on planktonic microbes and biofilms. Ethyl pyruvate combats preferably the growth of pathobionts belonging to bacteria and fungi independent of the genera and prevailing drug resistance. Surprisingly, this anti-microbial agent preserves symbionts like Lactobacillus species. Moreover, ethyl pyruvate prevents the formation of biofilms and promotes matured biofilms dissolution. This potentially new anti-microbial and anti-biofilm agent could have a tremendous positive impact on human, veterinary medicine and technical industry as well.

Grants and funding

TD was supported by Catholic Academic Exchange Service (KAAD). We acknowledge support from the German Research Foundation (DFG) and University of Leipzig within the program of Open Access Publishing.