Bacterial communications in implant infections: A target for an intelligence war

J. W. Costerton, L. Montanaro, Carla Renata Arciola

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The status of population density is communicated among bacteria by specific secreted molecules, called pheromones or autoinducers, and the control mechanism is called "quorum-sensing". Quorum-sensing systems regulate the expression of a panel of genes, allowing bacteria to adapt to modified environmental conditions at a high density of population. The two known different quorum systems are described as the LuxR-LuxI system in gram-negative bacteria, which uses an N-acyl-homoserine lactone (AHL) as signal, and the agr system in gram-positive bacteria, which uses a peptide-tiolactone as signal and the RNAIII as effector molecules. Both in gram-negative and in gram-positive bacteria, quorum-sensing systems regulate the expression of adhesion mechanisms (biofilm and adhesins) and virulence factors (toxins and exoenzymes) depending on population cell density. In gram-negative Pseudomonas aeruginosa, analogs of signaling molecules such as furanone analogs, are effective in attenuating bacterial virulence and controlling bacterial infections. In gram-positive Staphylococcus aureus, the quorum-sensing RNAIII-inhibiting peptide (RIP), tested in vitro and in animal infection models, has been proved to inhibit virulence and prevent infections. Attenuation of bacterial virulence by quorum-sensing inhibitors, rather than by bactericidal or bacteriostatic drugs, is a highly attractive concept because these antibacterial agents are less likely to induce the development of bacterial resistance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)757-763
Number of pages7
JournalInternational Journal of Artificial Organs
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2007


  • Agr system
  • Bacterial virulence
  • LuxR-Luxl system
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa
  • Quorum sensing
  • Quorum-sensing inhibitors
  • RIP
  • Staphylococcus aureus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics


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