Antimicrobial evaluation of N-Alkyl betaines and N-Alkyl-N,N-dimethylamine oxides with variations in chain length

C. R. Birnie, D. Malamud, R. L. Schnaare

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Alkyl betaines and alkyl dimethylamine oxides have been shown to have pronounced antimicrobial activity when used individually or in combination. Although several studies have been conducted with these compounds in combinations, only equimolar concentrations of the C12/C12 and C16/C14 chain lengths for the betaine and the amine oxide, respectively, have been investigated. This study investigates the antimicrobial activity of a wide range of chain lengths (C8 to C18) for both the betaine and amine oxide and attempts to correlate their micelle-forming capabilities with their biological activity. A broth microdilution method was used to determine the MICs of these compounds singly and in various molar ratio combinations. Activity against both Staphy-lococcus aureus and Escherichia coli was investigated. Antimicrobial activity was found to increase with increasing chain length for both homologous series up to a point, exhibiting a cutoff effect at chain lengths of approximately 16 for betaine and 14 for amine oxide. Additionally, the C18 oleyl derivative of both compounds exhibited activity in the same range as the peak alkyl compounds. Critical micelle concentrations were correlated with MICs, inferring that micellar activity may contribute to the cutoff effect in biological activity.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)2514-2517
    Number of pages4
    JournalAntimicrobial agents and chemotherapy
    Issue number9
    StatePublished - 2000

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Pharmacology
    • Pharmacology (medical)
    • Infectious Diseases


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