An Investigation of the Sporicidal Mechanism of Activity for the Synergistic Combination of Peracetic Acid and Hydrogen Peroxide
OPEN Applied and environmental microbiology | 8 Dec 2015
MJ Leggett, JS Schwarz, PA Burke, G McDonnell, SP Denyer and JY Maillard
There is still an important interest in controlling bacterial endospores. The use of chemical disinfectants and notably oxidising agents to sterilize medical devices is increasing. With this in mind hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) and peracetic acid (PAA) have been used in combination but until now there has been no explanation for the observed increased in sporicidal activity. This study provides information on the mechanism of synergistic interaction of PAA and H2O2 against bacterial spores. The investigations of the efficacy of different combinations, including pre-treatments with the two oxidisers were performed against wild-type and a range of spore mutants deficient in their spore coat or small acid-soluble spore proteins. The concentrations of the two biocides were also measured in the reaction vessels enabling the assessment of any shift from H2O2 to PAA formation. This study confirmed the synergistic activity of H2O2 and PAA combination. However, we observed that the sporicidal activity of the combination is largely due to PAA and not H2O2. Furthermore, we observed that the synergistic combination was based on H2O2 compromising the spore coat, which was the main spore resistance factor, likely allowing better penetration of PAA, resulting in the increased sporicidal activity.
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