Reducing bacterial resistance to antibiotics with ultrasound

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The effect of erythromycin on planktonic cultures of Pseudomonas aeruginosa, with and without application of 70 kHz ultrasound, was studied. Ultrasound was applied at levels that had no inhibitory effect on cultures of Ps. aeruginosa. Ultrasound in combination with erythromycin reduced the viability of Ps. aeruginosa by 1-2 orders of magnitude compared with antibiotic alone, even at concentrations below the minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC). Electron-spin resonance studies suggest that ultrasound induces uptake of antibiotic by perturbing or stressing the membrane. This application of ultrasound may be useful for expanding the number of drugs available for treating localized infections by rendering bacteria susceptible to normally ineffective antibiotics.

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