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Antimicrob Agents Chemother. 1994 Nov;38(11):2577-82.

Ultrasonic enhancement of antibiotic action on gram-negative bacteria.

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Chemical Engineering Department, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah 84602.


The effect of gentamicin upon planktonic cultures of Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus epidermidis, and Staphylococcus aureus was measured with and without application of 67-kHz ultrasonic stimulation. The ultrasound was applied at levels that had no inhibitory or bactericidal activity against the bacteria. Measurements of the MIC and bactericidal activity of gentamicin against planktonic cultures of P. aeruginosa and E. coli demonstrated that simultaneous application of 67-kHz ultrasound enhanced the effectiveness of the antibiotic. A synergistic effect was observed and bacterial viability was reduced several orders of magnitude when gentamicin concentrations and ultrasonic levels which by themselves did not reduce viability were combined. As the age of the culture increased, the bacteria became more resistant to the effect of the antibiotic alone. Application of ultrasound appeared to reverse this resistance. The ultrasonic treatment-enhanced activity was evident with cultures of P. aeruginosa and E. coli but was not observed with cultures of gram-positive S. epidermidis and S. aureus. These results may have application in the treatment of bacterial biofilm infections on implant devices, which infections are usually more resistant to antibiotic therapy.

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