Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology

, Volume 89, Issue 3, pp 475–492 | Cite as

Antimicrobial polymers: mechanism of action, factors of activity, and applications



Complex epidemiological situation, nosocomial infections, microbial contamination, and infection risks in hospital and dental equipment have led to an ever-growing need for prevention of microbial infection in these various areas. Macromolecular systems, due to their properties, allow one to efficiently use them in various fields, including the creation of polymers with the antimicrobial activity. In the past decade, the intensive development of a large class of antimicrobial macromolecular systems, polymers, and copolymers, either quaternized or functionalized with bioactive groups, has been continued, and they have been successfully used as biocides. Various permanent microbicidal surfaces with non-leaching polymer antimicrobial coatings have been designed. Along with these trends, new moderately hydrophobic polymer structures have been synthesized and studied, which contain protonated primary or secondary/tertiary amine groups that exhibited rather high antimicrobial activity, often unlike their quaternary analogues. This mini-review briefly highlights and summarizes the results of studies during the past decade and especially in recent years, which concern the mechanism of action of different antimicrobial polymers and non-leaching microbicidal surfaces, and factors influencing their activity and toxicity, as well as major applications of antimicrobial polymers.


Bacteria Antimicrobial activity Quaternary/non-quaternary polymers Mechanism of action 



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© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.A.V.Topchiev Institute of Petrochemical SynthesisRussian Academy of SciencesMoscowRussia

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