Virstatin inhibits biofilm formation and motility of Acinetobacter baumanni

BMC Microbiol. 2014 Mar 12;14:62. doi: 10.1186/1471-2180-14-62.

Virstatin inhibits biofilm formation and motility of Acinetobacter baumannii.




Acinetobacter baumannii has emerged as an opportunistic nosocomial pathogen causing infections worldwide. One reason for this emergence is due to its natural ability to survive in the hospital environment, which may be explained by its capacity to form biofilms. Cell surface appendages are important determinants of the A. baumannii biofilm formation and as such constitute interesting targets to prevent the development of biofilm-related infections. A chemical agent called virstatin was recently described to impair the virulence of Vibrio cholerae by preventing the expression of its virulence factor, the toxin coregulated pilus (type IV pilus). The objective of this work was to investigate the potential effect of virstatin on A. baumannii biofilms.


After a dose-response experiment, we determined that 100 μM virstatin led to an important decrease (38%) of biofilms formed by A. baumannii ATCC17978 grown under static mode. We demonstrated that the production of biofilms grown under dynamic mode was also delayed and reduced. The biofilm susceptibility to virstatin was then tested for 40 clinical and reference A. baumannii strains. 70% of the strains were susceptible to virstatin (with a decrease of 10 to 65%) when biofilms grew in static mode, whereas 60% of strains respond to the treatment when their biofilms grew in dynamic mode. As expected, motility and atomic force microscopy experiments showed that virstatin acts on the A. baumannii pili biogenesis.


By its action on pili biogenesis, virstatin demonstrated a very promising antibiofilm activity affecting more than 70% of the A. baumannii clinical isolates.


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Keywords: Microbiology, Biofilm