Tertiary amine was covalently bonded to a polystyrene fiber and examined for antibacterial activity. The tertiary amine covalently bonded to a polystyrene fiber (TAF) showed a high antimicrobial activity against Escherichia coli. TAF exhibited a stronger antibacterial activity against gram-negative bacteria (E. coli, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Klebsiella pneumoniae, Salmonella typhimurium, and Serratia marcescens) than against gram-positive bacteria (Staphylococcus aureus and Streptococcus faecalis) or Candida albicans. This activity against E. coli was accentuated by 0.1% deoxycholate or 10 mg of actinomycin D per ml, to which E. coli is normally not susceptible. This implies that TAF causes an increase of the bacterial outer membrane permeability. On the other hand, the antimicrobial activity was inhibited by adding Mg2+ or by lowering the pH. This suggest an electrostatic interaction between the bacterial cell wall and TAF. Scanning electron microscopy showed that E. coli cells were initially attached to TAF, with many projections on the cell surface, but then were apparently lysed after contact for 4 h. Taken together, these results imply that bacteria initially interact with TAF by an electrostatic force between the anionic bacterial outer membrane and the cationic tertiary amine residues of TAF and that longer contact with TAF damages the bacterial outer membrane structure and increases its permeability
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