Hand hygiene is one of the most important interventions for reducing transmission of nosocomial life-threatening microorganisms, like methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli (EHEC) or Candida albicans. All three pathogens have become a leading cause of infections in hospitals. Especially EHEC is causing severe diarrhoea and, in a small percentage of cases, haemolytic-uremic syndrome (HUS) as reported for E. coli 104:H4 in Germany 2011. We revealed the possibility to inactivate very fast and efficiently MRSA, EHEC and C. albicans using the photodynamic approach. MRSA, EHEC and C. albicans were incubated in vitro with different concentrations of TMPyP for 10 s and illuminated with visible light (50 mW cm−2) for 10 and 60 s. 1 μmol l−1 of TMPyP and an applied radiant exposure of 0.5 J cm−2 achieved a photodynamic killing of ≥99.9% of MRSA and EHEC. Incubation with higher concentrations (up to 100 μmol l−1) of TMPyP caused bacteria killing of >5 log10 (≥99.999%) after illumination. Efficient Candida killing (≥99.999%) was achieved first at a higher light dose of 12 J cm−2. Different rise and decay times of singlet oxygen luminescence signals could be detected in Candida cell suspensions for the first time, indicating different oxygen concentrations in the surrounding for the photosensitizer and singlet oxygen, respectively. This confirms that TMPyP is not only found in the water-dominated cell surrounding, but also within the C. albicans cells. Applying a water–ethanol solution of TMPyP on ex vivo porcine skin, fluorescence microscopy of histology showed that the photosensitizer was exclusively localized in the stratum corneum regardless of the incubation time. TMPyP exhibited a fast and very effective killing rate of life-threatening pathogens within a couple of seconds that encourages further testing in an in vivo setting. Being fast and effective, antimicrobial photodynamic applications might become acceptable as a tool for hand hygiene procedures and also in other skin areas.
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