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J Antimicrob Chemother. 2004 May;53(5):772-7. Epub 2004 Apr 7.

Selection for high-level resistance by chronic triclosan exposure is not universal.

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School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Manchester, Manchester, M13 9PL, UK.



To investigate the effect of triclosan exposure on the antimicrobial susceptibilities of numerically important dental bacteria.


A gradient plate technique was used to expose Fusobacterium nucleatum, Lactobacillus rhamnosus, Neisseria subflava, Porphyromonas gingivalis, Actinomyces naeslundii, Prevotella nigrescens, Streptococcus oralis, Streptococcus sanguis, Streptococcus mutans and Veillonella dispar repeatedly to escalating, sublethal concentrations of triclosan. Escherichia coli ATCC 8739 was included as an organism showing the triclosan resistance development trait. MIC values towards chlorhexidine, metronidazole and tetracycline were determined before and after biocide exposure.


N. subflava, Pr. nigrescens Po. gingivalis and E. coli were highly susceptible to triclosan (MIC range 0.1-3.9 mg/L), whereas the lactobacillus and S. mutans were less susceptible (MIC range 15.6-20.8 mg/L). Triclosan exposure resulted in a highly significant ( approximately 400-fold) reduction in triclosan susceptibility (P < 0.01) for the positive control E. coli, although its MICs towards chlorhexidine, metronidazole and tetracycline were not significantly altered. Minor ( approximately two-fold) decreases in triclosan susceptibility (MIC) occurred for Pr. nigrescens and in S. sanguis and S. oralis (MBC). Mean changes in susceptibilities (MIC and MBC) of the oral species to chlorhexidine, metronidazole and tetracycline did not exceed two-fold, although chlorhexidine MBCs for S. sanguis were markedly, but transiently, increased.


These data fail to demonstrate biologically significant drug resistance in triclosan-exposed bacteria and suggest that markedly decreased triclosan susceptibility, although confirmed for E. coli, is not a universal phenomenon. Other bacteria possibly possess more susceptible targets than FabI that are highly conserved, which may govern triclosan activity.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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