European Journal of Clinical Microbiology

, Volume 2, Issue 5, pp 426–431 | Cite as

Inhibition of bacterial multiplication by the iron chelator deferoxamine: Potentiating effect of ascorbic acid

  • B. S. van Asbeck
  • J. H. Marcelis
  • J. J. M. Marx
  • A. Struyvenberg
  • J. H. van Kats
  • J. Verhoef
Original Articles


Since iron is essential for the multiplication of microorganisms, the effect of the iron chelator deferoxamine, with or without ascorbic acid, on the growth of 43 strains ofStaphylococcus aureus, Staphylococcus epidermidis, Escherichia coli, Klebsiella pneumoniae, Proteus mirabilis, Alcaligenes faecalis, Neisseria meningitidis and species ofSalmonella, Enterobacter, Pseudomonas andProvidencia, was investigated with the use of an automated turbidimeter. Addition of deferoxamine (25–400Μg/ml) to the incubation medium was inhibitory in a dose-dependent fashion. At concentrations between 200–400 Μg/ml, growth was about 25 % lower than control values. However, when ascorbic acid (100Μg/ml) was added to the culture medium, this antimicrobial activity of deferoxamine was significantly increased to on average 75 % of the control value (p<0.05). Ascorbic acid alone had no bacteriostatic properties. Growth in the presence of 200Μg/ml deferoxamine combined with 100Μg/ml ascorbic acid was significantly lower than that in control media without additions (p<0.001). Addition of ferric citrate to the culture medium at a concentration sufficient to saturate all of the deferoxamine with iron, abolished the growth inhibiting effect of deferoxamine. The results provide evidence that deferoxamine is bacteriostatic due to its capacity to deplete iron which would otherwise be used for bacterial multiplication, and that ascorbic acid enhances this antibacterial property of deferoxamine.


Iron Escherichia Coli Citrate Ascorbic Acid Antimicrobial Activity 
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Copyright information

© Vieweg Publishing 1983

Authors and Affiliations

  • B. S. van Asbeck
    • 1
    • 3
  • J. H. Marcelis
    • 3
  • J. J. M. Marx
    • 1
    • 2
  • A. Struyvenberg
    • 1
  • J. H. van Kats
    • 3
  • J. Verhoef
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of MedicineUniversity HospitalGV UtrechtNetherlands
  2. 2.Department of HaematologyUniversity HospitalGV UtrechtNetherlands
  3. 3.Department of Clinical MicrobiologyUniversity HospitalGV UtrechtNetherlands

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