Pulsed Electromagnetic Fields Disrupt Staphylococcus epidermidis Biofilms and Enhance the Antibiofilm Efficacy of Antibiotics

Author: Ryan B Juncker1,2, Beth A Lazazzera2, Fabrizio Billi1
Affiliation: <sup>1</sup> Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, Los Angeles, California, USA. <sup>2</sup> Department of Microbiology, Immunology, and Molecular Genetics, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, Los Angeles, California, USA.
Conference/Journal: Microbiol Spectr
Date published: 2022 Oct 31
Other: Special Notes: doi: 10.1128/spectrum.01949-22. , Word Count: 306

Staphylococcus epidermidis is implicated in a multitude of human infections and is one of the major causes of clinical infections in hospitals, especially at surgical sites and on indwelling medical devices, such as orthopedic implants. These infections are especially dangerous because of the S. epidermidis propensity to form biofilms, which increases resistance to antibiotics and the natural immune response. This study investigated pulsed electromagnetic fields (PEMF) as a potential treatment to combat such infections, as PEMF exposure was expected to disrupt the electrostatic forces that adhere staphylococcal cells to surfaces and to one another. To test the effect of PEMF on biofilms, S. epidermidis cultures were exposed to PEMF at various durations either during the growth phase or after a full biofilm had formed. In addition, cells were exposed to PEMF and concomitant antibiotic treatment. Biofilm viability was quantified by both crystal violet and alamarBlue assays and scanning electron microscopy. The results demonstrated that PEMF significantly inhibited biofilm formation and disrupted preformed biofilms in vitro while also showing synergistic biofilm inhibition when combined with antibiotics. These combined results indicate that PEMF should be considered a promising novel technique for treating S. epidermidis biofilm infections and undergo further testing in vivo. IMPORTANCE Antibiotic resistance and biofilm infections are major issues in health care because of the lack of a successful treatment modality and poor patient outcomes. These infections are a particular issue following orthopedic surgery or trauma wherein an infection may form on an orthopedic implant or patient's bone. The presented study demonstrates that pulsed electromagnetic fields may be a promising novel treatment for such infections and can overcome the medical challenges presented by biofilm formation. Furthermore, the effects demonstrated are even greater when combining pulsed electromagnetic field therapy with traditional antibiotics.

Keywords: antibiofilm; antimicrobial agents; biofilms; electromagnetic fields; hospital infections; joint infections.

PMID: 36314923 DOI: 10.1128/spectrum.01949-22