Antimicrobial photodynamic therapy treatment of chronic recurrent sinusitis biofilms

Merrill A. Biel, Chet Sievert, Marina Usacheva, Matthew Teichert, Jim Balcom

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

52 Scopus citations


Background: Chronic recurrent sinusitis (CRS) is an inflammatory disease of the facial sinuses and nasal passages that is defined as lasting longer than 12 weeks or occurring more than 4 times per year with symptoms usually lasting more than 20 days. The National Institute for Health Statistics estimates that CRS is one of the most common chronic conditions in the United States, affecting an estimated 37 million Americans. The potential etiologies of CRS include bacteria, viruses, allergies, fungi, superantigens, and microbial biofilms. In clinical practice there is a significant subpopulation of patients with CRS who remain resistant to cure despite rigorous treatment regimens including surgery, allergy therapy, and prolonged antibiotic therapy. The reason for treatment failure is thought to be related to the destruction of the sinus mucociliary defense by the chronic sinus infection resulting in the development of secondary antibiotic-resistant microbial colonization of the sinuses and biofilm formation. Antimicrobial photodynamic therapy (aPDT) is a nonantibiotic broad-spectrum antimicrobial treatment that has been demonstrated to eradicate antibiotic-resistant bacteria and biofilms. The objective of this study was to demonstrate the effectiveness of a noninvasive aPDT treatment method of eradicating antibiotic resistant biofilms/microorganisms known to cause CRS in an in vitro model. Methods: Antibiotic-resistant planktonic bacteria and fungi and polymicrobial biofilms of Pseudomonas aeruginosa and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) were grown on silastic sheets and treated with a methylene blue photosensitizer and 670 nm non-thermal-activating light. Cultures of the planktonic microorganisms and biofilms were obtained before and after light treatment to determine efficacy of planktonic bacteria and biofilm reduction. Results: The in vitro CRS planktonic microorganism and biofilm study demonstrated that aPDT reduced the CRS polymicrobial biofilm by >99.9% after a single treatment. Conclusion: aPDT can effectively treat CRS polymicrobial antibiotic-resistant bacteria, fungi, and biofilms in vivo. Human clinical studies are currently planned to assess the safety and efficacy of this treatment for CRS.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)329-334
Number of pages6
JournalInternational Forum of Allergy and Rhinology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2011


  • Antibiotic resistant bacteria
  • Biofilms
  • Chronic sinusitis
  • Photodynamic therapy
  • Planktonic microorganisms

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