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Antimicrob Agents Chemother. Sep 1997; 41(9): 2001–2005.
PMCID: PMC164052

Rapid assessment of antibiotic effects on Escherichia coli by bis-(1,3-dibutylbarbituric acid) trimethine oxonol and flow cytometry.


The effects of selected antibiotics on Escherichia coli were studied by flow cytometry with the fluorescent anionic membrane potential probe bis-(1,3-dibutylbarbituric acid) trimethine oxonol [DiBAC4(3)]. The actions of azithromycin, cefuroxime, and ciprofloxacin at five times the MIC on E. coli were compared by the traditional CFU assay and flow cytometry. Changes in viable counts of bacteria determined with DiBAC4(3) and by flow cytometry following treatment with the antibiotics showed trends similar to those found by the CFU assays. However, viable counts determined by flow cytometry following antibiotic treatment were 1 to 2 logs higher than those determined by the corresponding CFU assays. All the results obtained by flow cytometry were provided within 10 min after sampling, whereas the conventional CFU assay results took at least 18 h. The results indicated that flow cytometry is a sensitive analytical technique that can rapidly monitor the physiological changes of individual microorganisms following antibiotic action and can provide information on the mode of action of a drug. The membrane potential probe DiBAC4(3) provides a robust flow cytometric indicator for bacterial cell viability.

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Selected References

These references are in PubMed. This may not be the complete list of references from this article.
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