Exploration of oxygen-mediated disinfection of medical devices reveals a high sensitivity of Pseudomonas aeruginosa to elevated oxygen levels

Francis M. Cavallo, Richard Kommers, Alexander W. Friedrich, Corinna Glasner, Jan Maarten van Dijl*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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The microbiological safety of medical devices is of paramount importance for patients and manufacturers alike. However, during usage medical devices will inevitably become contaminated with microorganisms, including opportunistic pathogens. This is a particular problem if these devices come in contact with body sites that carry high bacterial loads, such as the oral cavity. In the present study, we investigated whether high oxygen concentrations can be applied to disinfect surfaces contaminated with different Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria. We show that some opportunistic pathogens, exemplified by Pseudomonas aeruginosa, are particularly sensitive to oxygen concentrations above the atmospheric oxygen concentration of 21%. Our observations also show that high oxygen concentrations can be applied to reduce the load of P. aeruginosa on nebulizers that are used by cystic fibrosis patients, who are particularly susceptible to colonization and infection by this bacterium. We conclude that the efficacy of oxygen-mediated disinfection depends on the bacterial species, duration of oxygen exposure and the oxygen concentration. We consider these observations relevant, because gas mixtures with high oxygen content can be readily applied for microbial decontamination. However, the main challenge for oxygen-based disinfection approaches resides in a potentially incomplete elimination of microbial contaminants, which makes combined usage with other disinfectants like ethanol or hydrogen peroxide recommendable.

Original languageEnglish
Article number18243
Number of pages9
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec-2022


  • Humans
  • Disinfection
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Oxygen
  • Gram-Negative Bacteria
  • Gram-Positive Bacteria
  • Disinfectants/pharmacology
  • Bacteria

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