Antiseptics, antibiotics and the cell membrane

  • T. J. Franklin
  • G. A. Snow


The major interest throughout this book lies in the mechanism of action of drugs that can be used against microbial infections. For this purpose the compound must normally be absorbed and circulate in the blood. However, there is also a requirement in medicine and in industry for substances that kill bacteria and other micro-organisms on the surface of the body or in other places. Such products are known as disinfectants, sterilants, antiseptics or biocides, the choice of term depending on the circumstances in which they are used. ‘Disinfectant’ describes products intended for use in the presence of dirt and dense bacterial populations, for example in the cleaning of animal quarters or drains. ‘Biocide’ is used more particularly for preservatives that prevent bacterial and fungal attack on wood, paper, textiles and other kinds of organic material and also in pharmaceutical preparations. ‘Antiseptic’ is a term usually reserved for a substance that can be safely applied to the skin and mucosal surfaces with the aim of reducing the chances of infection by killing the surface bacteria. ‘Sterilants’ are substances used to sterilize an enclosed space; since penetration is paramount in this application, sterilants are usually gaseous.


Antifungal Agent Cytoplasmic Membrane Ergosterol Biosynthesis Squalene Epoxidase Polyene Antibiotic 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Further reading

  1. Anderson, O. S. (1984). Gramicidin channels. Ann. Rev. Physiol. 46, 531.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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  4. Dobler, M. (1981). Lonophores and Their Structures, John Wiley and Sons.Google Scholar
  5. Georgopapadakou, N. H. and Walsh, T. J. (1996). Antifungal targets: chemotherapeutic targets and immunologic strategies. Antimicrob. Agents Chemother 40, 279.Google Scholar
  6. Hugo, W B. (1992). Mode of action of non-antibiotic antibacterial agents. In Pharmaceutical Microbiology, 5th edn, (eds. W B. Hugo and A. D. Russell), Blackwell, Oxford, p. 288.Google Scholar
  7. Ingram, L. O. and Buttke, T. M. (1984). Effects of alcohols on micro-organisms.Adv. Microb. Physiol. 25, 254.Google Scholar
  8. Russell, A. D. (1986). Chlorhexidine, antibacterial action and bacterial resistance. Infection 14, 212.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Scott, F. M. and Coleman, S. P. (1992). Chemical disinfectants, antiseptics and preservatives. In Pharmaceutical Microbiology, 5th edn, (eds W B. Hugo and A. D. Russell), Blackwell, Oxford, p. 231.Google Scholar
  10. Van den Bossche H., Marichal, P. and Odds, F. C. (1994). Molecular mechanisms of drug resistance in fungi. Trends Microbiol. 2, 293.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Kluwer Academic Publishers 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • T. J. Franklin
    • 1
  • G. A. Snow
    • 1
  1. 1.Zeneca PharmaceuticalsAlderley Park, Macclesfield, CheshireUK

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