Triclosan Promotes Staphylococcus aureus Nasal Colonization

The biocide triclosan is used in many personal care products, including toothpastes, soaps, clothing, and medical equipment. Consequently, it is present as a contaminant in the environment and has been detected in some human fluids, including serum, urine, and milk. Staphylococcus aureus is an opportunistic pathogen that colonizes the noses and throats of approximately 30% of the population. Colonization with S. aureus is known to be a risk factor for several types of infection. Here we demonstrate that triclosan is commonly found in the nasal secretions of healthy adults and the presence of triclosan trends positively with nasal colonization by S. aureus. We demonstrate that triclosan can promote the binding of S. aureus to host proteins such as collagen, fibronectin, and keratin, as well as inanimate surfaces such as plastic and glass. Lastly, triclosan-exposed rats are more susceptible to nasal colonization with S. aureus. These data reveal a novel factor that influences the ability of S. aureus to bind surfaces and alters S. aureus nasal colonization.

IMPORTANCE: Triclosan has been used as a biocide for over 40 years, but the broader effects that it has on the human microbiome have not been investigated. We demonstrate that triclosan is present in nasal secretions of a large portion of a test population and its presence correlates with Staphylococcus aureus nasal colonization. Triclosan also promotes the binding of S. aureus to human proteins and increases the susceptibility of rats to nasal colonization by S. aureus. These findings are significant because S. aureus colonization is a known risk factor for the development of several types of infections. Our data demonstrate the unintended consequences of unregulated triclosan use and contribute to the growing body of research demonstrating inadvertent effects of triclosan on the environment and human health.


Citation Syed AK, Ghosh S, Love NG, Boles BR. 2014. Triclosan promotes Staphylococcus aureus nasal colonization. mBio 5(2):e01015-13. doi:10.1128/mBio.01015-13.

  1. Adnan K. Syeda, Sudeshna Ghoshb*, Nancy G. Loveb, Blaise R. Bolesa

Author Affiliations

  1. aDepartment of Molecular Cellular and Developmental Biology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA

  2. bDepartment of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA

Author Notes

  • * Present address: Sudeshna Ghosh, Biotechnology Institute, University of Minnesota, St. Paul, Minnesota, USA.

  1. Address correspondence to Blaise R. Boles,
  1. A.K.S. and S.G. contributed equally to this article.

  2. Invited Editor Eric Skaar, Vanderbilt University Editor Scott Hultgren, Washington University School of Medicine


Medical Daily: This Antibacterial Agent In Soap Could Be Causing Staph Infections — In Your Nose

Bereits am 10. Juni 2013 hat die Badische Zeitung informiert: Biocid auch in der Zahnpasta Colgate Total






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