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Chitosan against cutaneous pathogens


Propionibacterium acnes and Staphylococcus aureus are cutaneous pathogens that have become increasingly resistant to antibiotics. We sought to determine if chitosan, a polymer of deacetylated chitin, could be used as a potential treatment against these bacteria. We found that higher molecular weight chitosan had superior antimicrobial properties compared to lower molecular weights, and that this activity occurred in a pH dependent manner. Electron and fluorescence microscopy revealed that chitosan forms aggregates and binds to the surface of bacteria, causing shrinkage of the bacterial membrane from the cell wall. Of special relevance, clinical isolates of P. acnes were vulnerable to chitosan, which could be combined with benzoyl peroxide for additive antibacterial effect. Chitosan also demonstrated significantly less cytotoxicity to monocytes than benzoyl peroxide. Overall, chitosan demonstrates many promising qualities for treatment of cutaneous pathogens.

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