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Arch Surg. 1991 May;126(5):603-8.

Effects of topical antimicrobial agents on the human neutrophil respiratory burst.

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Department of Surgery, University of California, San Diego Medical Center 92103.


The neutrophil oxidative burst plays an important role in killing intracellular microorganisms. We studied the effects of topical antimicrobial agents on the N-formyl-L-methionyl-L-leucyl-L-phenylalanine-stimulated oxidative burst of human peripheral blood neutrophils, using a flow cytometric assay. Mafenide acetate, sulfadiazine silver, gentamicin sulfate, neomycin sulfate-polymyxin B sulfate (Neosporin GU irrigant), acetic acid, amphotericin B, and povidone-iodine inhibited the neutrophil oxidative burst at or below clinical concentrations, while 0.25% modified diluted sodium hypochlorite (Dakin's) solution caused cell death. Bacitracin-polymyxin B sulfate (Polysporin) greatly augmented the respiratory burst; this effect was due to the bacitracin component. Diluted gentamicin and acetic acid also augmented intracellular hydrogen peroxide production, but to a lesser extent than Polysporin. Inhibition of the respiratory burst of neutrophils might be considered when these agents are used for topical wound care, although clinical correlates of these effects have not been determined.

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