Effects of pH on the Antibiotic Resistance of Bacteria Recovered from Diabetic Foot Ulcer Fluid An In Vitro Study

Carla McArdle, K Lagan, David McDowell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Background: This study investigated the resistance of bacteria isolated from diabetic foot ulcers (DFUs) to antibiotics frequently used in the management of the diabetic foot infections, at a range of pH values (pH 6.5, 7.5, and 8.5) known to exist in DFU wound fluid. This study aimed to determine whether changes (or atypical stasis) in wound fluid pH modulate the antibiotic resistance of DFU isolates, with potential implications in relation to the suppression/eradication of bacterial infections in DFUs.

Methods: Thirty bacterial isolates were recovered from DFU wound fluid, including Staphylococcus spp, Staphylococcus aureus, Escherichia coli, Streptococcus spp, Pseudomonas spp, and Pseudomonas aeruginosa. The resistances of these isolates to a panel of antibiotics currently used in the treatment of infected or potentially infected DFUs, ie, ciprofloxacin, amoxicillin-clavulanate, doxycycline, and piperacillin-tazobactam, at the previously mentioned pH values were determined by a modification of the Kirby-Bauer assay.

Results: The resistance of DFU isolates to clinically relevant antibiotics was significantly affected by the pH levels in DFU wound fluid.

Conclusions: These findings highlight the importance of a more comprehensive understanding of the conditions in DFUs to inform clinical decision making in the selection and application of antibiotics in treating these difficult-to-heal wounds. The scale of the differences in the efficacies of antibiotics at the different pH values examined is likely to be sufficient to suggest reconsideration of the antibiotics of choice in the treatment of DFU infection.
Original languageEnglish
Article number108
Pages (from-to)6-11
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of the American Podiatric Medical Association
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 31 Jan 2018


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