Ultraviolet C light for Acinetobacter baumannii wound infections in mice: Potential use for battlefield wound decontamination?

Tianhong Dai, Clinton K. Murray, Mark S. Vrahas, David G. Baer, George P. Tegos, Michael R. Hamblin*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Background: Since the beginning of the conflicts in the Middle East, US Army physicians have noted a high rate of multidrug-resistant Acinetobacter baumannii infections among US soldiers wounded and initially treated in Iraq. In this study, we investigated the use of ultraviolet C (UVC) light for prevention of multidrug-resistant A. baumannii wound infections using mouse models. Methods: Partial-thickness skin abrasions and full-thickness burns in mice were infected with a multidrug-resistant A. baumannii isolate recovered from a wounded US soldier deployed to Iraq. The luxCDABE operon, which was contained in plasmid pMF 385, was cloned into the A. baumannii strain. This allowed real-time monitoring of the extent of infection in mice using bioluminescence imaging. UVC light was delivered to the mouse wounds at 30 minutes after the inoculation of A. baumannii. Groups of infected mouse wounds without being exposed to UVC served as the controls. Results: In vitro studies demonstrated that A. baumannii cells were inactivated at UVC exposures much lower than those needed for a similar effect on mammalian cells. It was observed in animal studies that UVC (3.24 J/cm for abrasions and 2.59 J/cm for burns) significantly reduced the bacterial burdens in UVC-treated wounds by approximately 10-fold compared with nontreated controls (p = 0.004 for abrasions, p = 0.019 for burns). DNA lesions were observed by immunofluorescence in mouse skin abrasions immediately after a UVC exposure of 3.24 J/cm; however, the lesions were extensively repaired within 72 hours. Conclusion: These results suggested that UVC may be useful in preventing combat-related wound infections.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)661-667
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Acinetobacter baumannii
  • Skin abrasion
  • burn
  • combat-related infection
  • ultraviolet C


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