Photosensitizer-antibiotic conjugates: A novel class of antibacterial molecules

Rivka Cahan, Nissim Swissa, Gary Gellerman, Yeshayahu Nitzan

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20 Scopus citations


Bacterial resistance to a variety of antibiotics has led to intensive research into the effect of photosensitizers as a cytotoxic agent against bacterial cells. In this study, we synthesized the following conjugates with or without a linker: rose bengal-penicillanic acid (RBPA), rose bengal-linker-penicillanic acid (RBLPA) and rose bengal-linker-kanamycin (RBLKAN). The antibacterial activity of these conjugates was examined on Staphylococcus aureus and Escherichia coli. Exposure of the cultures to 100 J cm-2 showed that the minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC) of RBPA, RBLPA and RBLKAN on S. aureus was 0.195, 0.156 and 0.004 μm, respectively. The MIC of RBPA, RBLPA and RBLKAN on E. coli was 1.56, 2.5 and 0.156 μm, respectively. In dark control experiments, the MIC of these conjugates was not detected until a concentration that was 16-fold that of the MIC found in the light experiments. RBPA and RBLPA as well as RBLKAN are bactericidal for both bacterial cells. Total eradication of S. aureus and E. coli was observed with RBLKAN (0.078 and 20 μm 16 J cm-2, respectively). Under these conditions, scanning electron microscopic analysis showed significant damage to these bacteria. However, the photosensitizer and antibiotics individually were not effective.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)418-425
Number of pages8
JournalPhotochemistry and Photobiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2010


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