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J Appl Bacteriol. 1990 Oct;69(4):585-92.

Barrier properties of the gram-negative cell envelope towards high molecular weight polyhexamethylene biguanides.

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Department of Pharmacy, University of Manchester, UK.


The antimicrobial activities of four discrete molecular weight fractions of polyhexamethylene biguanides towards a number of Escherichia coli strains have been investigated. Whilst activity of the polymers was observed to increase in proportion to polymerization number, the dependence of activity upon molecular weight was five times greater towards sphaeroplasts than towards whole cells. This suggested that the cell envelope, whilst not conferring complete resistance to the agents, did provide a significant exclusion barrier. Comparison of the activities towards rough and deep-rough lipopolysaccharide strains showed growth inhibitory activity, but not bactericidal activity nor respiratory inhibition, to be enhanced in the rough strains. Uptake studies showed mixed H- and C-type adsorption with significantly greater numbers of high-affinity binding sites being associated with rough than deep-rough lipopolysaccharide. The binding affinity of polyhexamethylene biguanides towards cells was also enhanced in the rough strains. Binding affinity was, in all cases, significantly reduced in the presence of magnesium and suggested a mechanism of self-promoted uptake for these biocides, facilitated through core lipopolysaccharide.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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