Synergistic antibacterial effect of ultrasound microbubbles combined with chitosan-modified polymyxin B-loaded liposomes on biofilm-producing Acinetobacter baumannii

Int J Nanomedicine. 2019 Mar 8;14:1805-1815. doi: 10.2147/IJN.S186571. eCollection 2019.


Purpose: Resistant strains of Acinetobacter baumannii (AB) that can form biofilms are resistant to polymyxin. Therefore, effective and safe polymyxin preparations against biofilm-producing AB are urgently needed. This study aims to prepare chitosan-modified polymyxin B-loaded liposomes (CLPs) and ultrasound microbubbles (USMBs) and then explore the synergistic antibacterial effects of USMBs combined with CLPs in vitro.

Methods: CLPs were prepared using a modified injection method, and microbubbles were prepared using a simple mechanical vibration method. Minimal biofilm inhibitory concentration (MBIC) of CLPs against resistant biofilm-producing AB was determined. Antibacterial activities of CLPs with or without USMBs were analyzed by crystal violet staining and resazurin assays to evaluate biofilm mass and viable counts, respectively. Then, the anti-biofilm effects of CLPs with or without USMBs on biofilm-producing AB were confirmed via scanning electron microscopy (SEM) analysis.

Results: We prepared CLPs that were 225.17±17.85 nm in size and carried positive charges of 12.64±1.44 mV. These CLPs, with higher encapsulation efficiency and drug loading, could exhibit a sustained release effect. We prepared microbubbles that were 2.391±0.052 µm in size and carried negative charges of -4.32±0.43 mV. The MBICs of the CLPs on the biofilm-producing AB was 8±2 µg/mL, while that of polymyxin B was 32±2 µg/mL. USMBs in combination with 2 µg/mL of polymyxin B could completely eliminate the biofilm-producing AB and achieve the maximum antimicrobial effects (P>0.05 vs sterile blank control). SEM imaging revealed some scattered bacteria without a biofilm structure in the USMB combined with the CLP group, confirming that this combination has the greatest anti-biofilm effects.

Conclusion: In this research, we successfully prepared USMBs and CLPs that have a more significant antibacterial effect on biofilm-forming AB than polymyxin B alone. Experiments in vitro indicate that the synergistic antibacterial effect of combining USMBs with CLPs containing as little as 2 µg/mL of polymyxin B is sufficient to almost eliminate drug-resistant biofilm-producing AB.

Keywords: Acinetobacter baumannii; biofilms; chitosan; liposome; polymyxin B; ultrasound microbubbles.

MeSH terms

  • Acinetobacter baumannii / drug effects*
  • Acinetobacter baumannii / physiology*
  • Acinetobacter baumannii / ultrastructure
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / pharmacology*
  • Biofilms / drug effects*
  • Chitosan / chemistry*
  • Drug Liberation
  • Drug Synergism
  • Humans
  • Liposomes
  • Microbial Sensitivity Tests
  • Microbubbles*
  • Polymyxin B / pharmacology*
  • Ultrasonics*


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Liposomes
  • Chitosan
  • Polymyxin B