The use of porphyrins for eradication of Staphylococcus aureus in burn wound infections

Arie Orenstein, Dov Klein, Juri Kopolovic, Eyal Winkler, Zvi Malik, Nathan Keller, Yeshayahu Nitzan

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The assessment of deuteroporphyrin-hemin complex as an agent for the treatment of burn wounds infected with a multiple-drug resistant strain of Staphylococcus aureus was performed. The effect of the porphyrin on the survival of the infectious bacteria was first assayed in culture, and later tested as well in a burned infected animal model. The addition of deuteroporphyrin and hemin, separately or together (as a complex) to a growing culture of S. aureus was monitored during 8 hours. It was found that deuteroporphyrin alone was strongly bactericidal only after photosensitization. On the other hand, hemin alone was moderately bactericidal but light independent. A combination of both deuterophyrin and hemin was extremely potent even in the dark and did not require illumination to eradicate the bacteria. The in viva experiments by application of the above porphyrins in combination to infected burn wounds in guinea pigs was an effective way to reduce dramatically the contaminating S. aureus. Reduction of more than 99% of the viable bacteria was noted after the porphyrin mixture was dropped on the eschar or injected into the eschar, an effect that lasted for up to 24 hours. The deuteroporphyrinhemin complex may be suggested as a new bactericidal treatment of S. aureus infected burns since it was found to be a potent and promising anti-Staphylococcal agent.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)307-314
Number of pages8
JournalFEMS Immunology and Medical Microbiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1997


  • Burn
  • Hemin
  • Porphyrin
  • Porphyrin complex
  • Staphylococcus aureus


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