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Lett Appl Microbiol. 2005;41(6):476-81.

Triclosan-bacteria interactions: single or multiple target sites?

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Welsh School of Pharmacy, Cardiff University, UK.



To investigate the inhibitory and lethal effects of triclosan against several micro-organisms at different stages of their phase of population growth.


Triclosan minimum inhibitory concentrations against several test organisms were determined in broth and agar using standard protocols. The bisphenol effect on bacterial population growth kinetics was studied using the Bioscreen C microbial growth analyser. Finally, the efficacy of triclosan on phases of bacterial growth was determined using a standard suspension test. The duration of the lag phase for all micro-organisms tested was increased by bisphenol in a concentration-dependent manner. The population growth kinetics of the micro-organisms was also altered after biocide exposure. At higher concentrations, triclosan was bactericidal regardless of their phase of population growth, although population in stationary phase and particularly, washed suspensions, were more resilient to the lethality of triclosan. This lethal activity was concentration and contact time dependent, and in some instances, bactericidal activity of bisphenol was observed within 15 s.


Low concentrations of triclosan affected the growth of several bacteria, while higher concentrations were bactericidal regardless of the bacterial phase of population growth.


Here, we presented clear evidence that the interaction of triclosan with the bacterial cell is complex and its lethality cannot be explained solely by the inhibition of metabolic pathways such as the enoyl acyl-reductase. However, the inhibition of such pathways cannot be ruled out as part of the lethal mechanism of the bisphenol at a low bactericidal concentration.

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