Bioelectric effect and bacterial biofilms. A systematic review

J. L. del Pozo, M. S. Rouse, Robin Patel

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

71 Scopus citations


Bacteria growing in biofilms cause a wide range of human infections. Biofilm bacteria are resistant to antimicrobics at levels 500 to 5,000 times higher than those needed to kill non-biofilm bacteria. In vitro experiments have shown that electric current can enhance the activity of some antimicrobial agents against certain bacteria in biofilms; this has been termed the "bioelectric effect". Direct electrical current has already been safely used in humans for fracture healing. Application of direct electric current with antimicrobial chemotherapy in humans could theoretically abrogate the need to remove the device in device-related infections, a procedure associated with substantial morbidity and cost. In this article, we review what has been described in the literature with regards to the bioelectric effect.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)786-795
Number of pages10
JournalInternational Journal of Artificial Organs
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2008


  • Bioelectric effect
  • Biofilm

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Bioengineering
  • Biomaterials
  • Biomedical Engineering


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