Potassium iodide potentiates antimicrobial photodynamic inactivation mediated by Rose bengal in in vitro and in vivo studies

Xiang Wen, Xiaoshen Zhang, Grzegorz Szewczyk, Ahmed El-Hussein, Ying Ying Huang, Tadeusz Sarna, Michael R. Hamblin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

97 Citations (Scopus)


Rose bengal (RB) is a halogenated xanthene dye that has been used to mediate antimicrobial photodynamic inactivation for several years. While RB is highly active against Gram-positive bacteria, it is largely inactive in killing Gram-negative bacteria. We have discovered that addition of the nontoxic salt potassium iodide (100 mM) potentiates green light (540-nm)-mediated killing by up to 6 extra logs with the Gram-negative bacteria Escherichia coli and Pseudomonas aeruginosa, the Gram-positive bacterium methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, and the fungal yeast Candida albicans. The mechanism is proposed to be singlet oxygen addition to iodide anion to form peroxyiodide, which decomposes into radicals and, finally, forms hydrogen peroxide and molecular iodine. The effects of these different bactericidal species can be teased apart by comparing the levels of killing achieved in three different scenarios: (i) cells, RB, and KI are mixed together and then illuminated with green light; (ii) cells and RB are centrifuged, and then KI is added and the mixture is illuminated with green light; and (iii) RB and KI are illuminated with green light, and then cells are added after illumination with the light. We also showed that KI could potentiate RB photodynamic therapy in a mouse model of skin abrasions infected with bioluminescent P. aeruginosa.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere00467-17
JournalAntimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Antimicrobial photodynamic inactivation
  • Potassium iodide
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa mouse infection
  • Reactive iodine species
  • Rose bengal
  • Singlet oxygen

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmacology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases


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