Direct visualization of spatial and temporal patterns of antimicrobial action within model oral biofilms
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A microscopic method for non-invasively visualizing the action of an antimicrobial agent inside a biofilm was developed and applied to describe spatial and temporal patterns of mouthrinse activity on model oral biofilms. Three species biofilms of Streptococcus oralis, Streptococcus gordonii, and Actinomyces naeslundii were grown in glass capillary flow cells. Bacterial cells were stained with the fluorogenic esterase substrate Calcien AM. Loss of green fluorescence upon exposure to an antimicrobial formulation was subsequently imaged by time-lapse confocal laser scanning microscopy. When an antimicrobial mouthrinse containing chlorhexidine digluconate was administered, a gradual loss of green fluorescence was observed that began at the periphery of cell clusters where they adjoined the flowing bulk fluid and progressed inward over a time period of several minutes. Image analysis was performed to quantify a penetration velocity of 4 microns per minute. An enzyme-based antimicrobial formulation lead to a gradual, continually slowing loss of fluorescence in a pattern that was qualitatively different from the behavior observed with chlorhexidine. Ethanol at 11.6% had little effect on the biofilm. None of these treatments resulted in removal of biomass from the biofilm. Most methods to measure or visualize antimicrobial action in biofilms are destructive. Spatial information is important because biofilms are known for their structural and physiological heterogeneity. The CAM staining technique has the potential to provide information about the rate of antimicrobial penetration, the presence of tolerant subpopulations, and the extent of biomass removal effected by a treatment.
Takenaka S, Trivedi HM, Corbin A, Pitts B, Stewart PS, "Direct visualization of spatial and temporal patterns of antimicrobial action within model oral biofilms," Appl. Environ Microbiol. 2008 74(6):1869-1875