Photodynamic inactivation of multi-resistant bacteria (PIB) – a new approach to treat superficial infections in the 21st century


Priv.-Doz. Dr. rer. nat. Tim Maisch
Department of Dermatology
University Clinic Regensburg
Franz-Josef-Strauss-Allee 11
D-93053 Regensburg, Germany
Tel.: +49-941-944-8944
Fax: +49-941-944-8943


The increasing resistance of bacteria against antibiotics is one of the most important clinical challenges of the 21st century. Within the gram-positive bacteria the methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus and Enterococcus faecium represent the major obstacle to successful therapy. Apart from the development of new antibiotics it requires additional differently constituted approaches, like photodynamic inactivation in order to have further effective treatment options against bacteria available. Certain dyes, termed photosensitizers, are able to store the absorbed energy in long-lived electronic states upon light activation with appropriate wavelengths and thus make these states available for chemical activation of the immediate surroundings. The interaction with molecular oxygen, which leads to different, very reactive and thus cytotoxic oxygen species, is highlighted. In this review the application of the photodynamic inactivation of bacteria will be discussed regarding the possible indications in dermatology, like localized skin and wound infections or the reduction of nosocomial colonization with multi-resistant bacteria on the skin. The crucial advantage of the local application of photosensitizers followed by irradiation of the area of interest is the fact that independent of the resistance pattern of a bacterium a direct inactivation takes place similarly as with an antiseptic. In this review the physical-chemical and biological basics of photo-dynamic inactivation of bacteria (PIB) will be discussed as well as the possible dermatological indications.