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Int J Antimicrob Agents. 2009 Jul;34(1):60-6. doi: 10.1016/j.ijantimicag.2008.10.033. Epub 2009 Jan 20.

Effect of berberine on Staphylococcus epidermidis biofilm formation.

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Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Ninth People's Hospital, Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of Medicine, Shanghai 200011, China.


Staphylococcus epidermidis is one of the main causes of medical device-related infections owing to its adhesion and biofilm-forming abilities on biomaterial surfaces. Berberine is an isoquinoline-type alkaloid isolated from Coptidis rhizoma (huang lian in Chinese) and other herbs with many activities against various disorders. Although the inhibitory effects of berberine on planktonic bacteria have been investigated in a few studies, the capacity of berberine to inhibit biofilm formation has not been reported to date. In this study, we observed that berberine is bacteriostatic for S. epidermidis and that sub-minimal inhibitory concentrations of berberine blocked the formation of S.epidermidis biofilm. Using viability assays and berberine uptake testing, berberine at a concentration of 15-30mug/mL was shown to inhibit bacterial metabolism. Data from this study also indicated that modest concentrations of berberine (30-45mug/mL) were sufficient to exhibit an antibacterial effect and to inhibit biofilm formation significantly, as shown by the tissue culture plate (TCP) method, confocal laser scanning microscopy and scanning electron microscopy for both S. epidermidis ATCC 35984 and a clinical isolate strain SE243. Although the mechanisms of bacterial killing and inhibition of biofilm formation are not fully understood, data from this investigation indicated a potential application for berberine as an adjuvant therapeutic agent for the prevention of biofilm-related infections.

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