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PLoS One. 2016 Sep 22;11(9):e0162919. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0162919. eCollection 2016.

Ethyl Pyruvate: An Anti-Microbial Agent that Selectively Targets Pathobionts and Biofilms.

Author information

Institute of Medical Microbiology, University of Leipzig, Leipzig, Germany.
Institute of Biochemistry, Faculty of Medicine, University of Leipzig, Leipzig, Germany.
College of Medicine and Health Sciences, Bahir Dar University, Bahir Dar, Ethiopia.
Institute of Bacteriology and Mycology, University of Leipzig, Leipzig, Germany.
Leibniz Institute on Aging-Fritz Lipmann Institute, Jena, Germany.
Institute of Veterinary Anatomy, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Leipzig, Leipzig, Germany.
Department of Internal Medicine, Neurology & Dermatology, Angiology, University of Leipzig, Leipzig, Germany.


The microbiota has a strong influence on health and disease in humans. A causative shift favoring pathobionts is strongly linked to diseases. Therefore, anti-microbial agents selectively targeting potential pathogens as well as their biofilms are urgently demanded. Here we demonstrate the impact of ethyl pyruvate, so far known as ROS scavenger and anti-inflammatory agent, on planktonic microbes and biofilms. Ethyl pyruvate combats preferably the growth of pathobionts belonging to bacteria and fungi independent of the genera and prevailing drug resistance. Surprisingly, this anti-microbial agent preserves symbionts like Lactobacillus species. Moreover, ethyl pyruvate prevents the formation of biofilms and promotes matured biofilms dissolution. This potentially new anti-microbial and anti-biofilm agent could have a tremendous positive impact on human, veterinary medicine and technical industry as well.

Conflict of interest statement

The antimicrobial action of EP is already patented by Gerd Birkenmeier and Klaus Huse (Patent number: PCT/EP2006/003466); however, we declare that this does not alter our adherence to PLOS ONE policies on sharing data and materials.

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