(+)-Dehydroabietic acid, an abietane-type diterpene, inhibits Staphylococcus aureus biofilms in vitro

Adyary Fallarero, Malena Skogman, Janni Kujala, Mohanathas Rajaratnam, Vânia M. Moreira, Jari Yli-Kauhaluoma, Pia Vuorela

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Citations (Scopus)
27 Downloads (Pure)


Potent drugs are desperately needed to counteract bacterial biofilm infections, especially those caused by gram-positive organisms, such as Staphylococcus aureus. Moreover, anti-biofilm compounds/agents that can be used as chemical tools are also needed for basic in vitro or in vivo studies aimed at exploring biofilms behavior and functionability. In this contribution, a collection of naturally-occurring abietane-type diterpenes and their derivatives was tested against S. aureus biofilms using a platform consisting of two phenotypic assays that have been previously published by our group. Three active compounds were identified: nordehydroabietylamine (1), (+)-dehydroabietic acid (2) and (+)-dehydroabietylamine (3) that prevented biofilm formation in the low micromolar range, and unlike typical antibiotics, only 2 to 4-fold higher concentrations were needed to significantly reduce viability and biomass of existing biofilms. Compound 2, (+)-dehydroabietic acid, was the most selective towards biofilm bacteria, achieving high killing efficacy (based on log Reduction values) and it was best tolerated by three different mammalian cell lines. Since (+)-dehydroabietic acid is an easily available compound, it holds great potential to be used as a molecular probe in biofilms-related studies as well as to serve as inspirational chemical model for the development of potent drug candidates.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)12054-12072
Number of pages19
JournalInternational Journal of Molecular Sciences
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 5 Jun 2013


  • biofilm infections
  • anti-bacterial agents
  • biocompatible materials
  • Staphylococcus aureus


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