Flow Cytometric Analysis of Chlorhexidine Action

FEMS Microbiol Lett. 1997 Sep 15;154(2):283-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1574-6968.1997.tb12657.x.


The mechanism by which chlorhexidine kills bacteria is still ill defined. We have investigated the action of chlorhexidine on Escherichia coli JM101/psb311 using a combination of flow cytometry and traditional methods. Chlorhexidine-induced uptake by E. coli cells of bis-(1,3-dibutylbarturic acid) trimethine oxonol and propidium iodide, which monitor membrane potential and membrane integrity respectively, was shown to be concentration dependent for the range 0.003-0.3 mmol-1. In addition, cells in log phase growth were more susceptible to 0.03 mmol-1 chlorhexidine than those in stationary phase. There was, however, no direct correlation between dye uptake and decline in colony forming units.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Infective Agents, Local / pharmacology*
  • Cell Membrane / drug effects
  • Chlorhexidine / pharmacology*
  • Escherichia coli / drug effects*
  • Flow Cytometry
  • Fluorescence
  • Light
  • Scattering, Radiation


  • Anti-Infective Agents, Local
  • Chlorhexidine