Potent drugs are desperately needed to counteract bacterial biofilm infections, especially those caused by gram-positive organisms, such as Staphylococcus aureus. Moreover, anti-biofilm compounds/agents that can be used as chemical tools are also needed for basic in vitro or in vivo studies aimed at exploring biofilms behavior and functionability. In this contribution, a collection of naturally-occurring abietane-type diterpenes and their derivatives was tested against S. aureus biofilms using a platform consisting of two phenotypic assays that have been previously published by our group. Three active compounds were identified: nordehydroabietylamine (1), (+)-dehydroabietic acid (2) and (+)-dehydroabietylamine (3) that prevented biofilm formation in the low micromolar range, and unlike typical antibiotics, only 2 to 4-fold higher concentrations were needed to significantly reduce viability and biomass of existing biofilms. Compound 2, (+)-dehydroabietic acid, was the most selective towards biofilm bacteria, achieving high killing efficacy (based on log Reduction values) and it was best tolerated by three different mammalian cell lines. Since (+)-dehydroabietic acid is an easily available compound, it holds great potential to be used as a molecular probe in biofilms-related studies as well as to serve as inspirational chemical model for the development of potent drug candidates.
Keywords: Biofilm, Microbiology