Interaction between biofilms formed by Pseudomonas aeruginosa and clarithromycin

Antimicrob Agents Chemother. 1993 Sep;37(9):1749-55. doi: 10.1128/AAC.37.9.1749.


Interactions between bacterial biofilms formed by Pseudomonas aeruginosa and clarithromycin, a macrolide having no anti-P. aeruginosa activity, were investigated. P. aeruginosa incubated for 10 days on membrane filters formed biofilms on the surfaces of the filters. The biofilms were characterized by dense colonizations of bacteria and thick membranous structures that covered the colonies. Treatment of the biofilms with a relatively low concentration of clarithromycin for 5 days resulted in an eradication of the membranous structures. Quantitative analysis of alginate and hexose was done to evaluate the quantity of polysaccharides in or on the biofilms. Treatment of the biofilms with clarithromycin decreased the quantity of alginate and hexose and therefore perhaps the quantity of polysaccharides as well. Eradication of the membranous structures of biofilms, or the decrease in the quantity of polysaccharides, resulted in an increase in the rate of penetration of antibiotics through bacterial biofilms. In vivo therapeutic effects of ofloxacin in the rat infection model, in which the biofilm mode of growth of P. aeruginosa is characteristic, were enhanced by oral coadministration of clarithromycin. It is suggested that clarithromycin eradicated glycocalyx produced by P. aeruginosa, or suppressed the production of glycocalyx, by unknown mechanisms and thereby enhanced the therapeutic efficacies of other antimicrobial agents against infections caused by P. aeruginosa.

MeSH terms

  • Alginates / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Bacterial Proteins / metabolism
  • Clarithromycin / pharmacology*
  • Clarithromycin / therapeutic use
  • Filtration
  • Hexoses / metabolism
  • Male
  • Microbial Sensitivity Tests
  • Microscopy, Electron, Scanning
  • Ofloxacin / therapeutic use
  • Pseudomonas Infections / drug therapy
  • Pseudomonas Infections / microbiology
  • Pseudomonas Infections / pathology
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa / drug effects*
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa / growth & development
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa / metabolism
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Skin / pathology


  • Alginates
  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Hexoses
  • Ofloxacin
  • Clarithromycin