Alcoholic ingredients in skin disinfectants increase biofilm expression of Staphylococcus epidermidis

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The pathogenesis of Staphylococcus epidermidis is correlated with biofilm formation. We investigated the effect of three common alcoholic skin disinfectants, ethanol, n-propanol and isopropanol, on the biofilm formation of 37 clinical, icaADBC-positive S. epidermidis isolates. In alcohol-supplemented media 18 strains displayed increased biofilm expression. Sixteen of 19 strains were generally incapable of biofilm formation. In three representative isolates, the increase in biofilm formation was paralleled by increased polysaccharide intercellular adhesin synthesis. Regarding the widespread use of alcoholic skin disinfectants, it is possible that the alcohol-inducible biofilm phenotype of S. epidermidis could add to the development of foreign body-related infections.

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