Prevention and treatment of Pseudomonas aeruginosa-based biofilm with ethanol

Michal Natan, Gila Jacobi, Ehud Banin, Shai Ashkenazi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Background: Although indwelling catheters are increasingly used in modern medicine, they can be a source of microbial contamination and hard-to-treat biofilms, which jeopardize patient lives. At times 70% ethanol is used as a catheter-lock solution due to its bactericidal properties. However, high concentrations of ethanol can result in adverse effects and in malfunction of the catheters. Objective: To determine whether low concentrations of ethanol can prevent and treat biofilms of Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Methods: Ethanol was tested at a concentration range of 0.625-80% against laboratory and clinical isolates of P. aeruginosa for various time periods (2-48 hours). The following parameters were evaluated following ethanol exposure: prevention of biofilm formation, reduction of biofilm metabolic activity, and inhibition of biofilm regrowth. Results: Exposing P. aeruginosa to twofold ethanol gradients demonstrated a significant biofilm inhibition at concentrations as low as 2.5%. Treating pre-formed biofilms of P. aeruginosa with 20% ethanol for 4 hours caused a sharp decay in the metabolic activity of both the laboratory and clinical P. aeruginosa isolates. In addition, treating mature biofilms with 20% ethanol prevented the regrowth of bacteria encased within it. Conclusions: Low ethanol concentrations (2.5%] can prevent in vitro biofilm formation of P. aeruginosa. Treatment of previously formed biofilms can be achieved using 20% ethanol, thereby keeping the catheters intact and avoiding complications that can result from high ethanol concentrations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)299-302
Number of pages4
JournalIsrael Medical Association Journal
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2020

Bibliographical note

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© 2020 Israel Medical Association. All rights reserved.


  • Catheters
  • Central lines
  • Ethanol
  • Healthcare-associated infections
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa


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