Evolutionary clade affects resistance of Clostridium difficile spores to Cold Atmospheric Plasma

Mairead Connor, Padrig Flynn, Derek Fairley, Nicola Marks, Panagiotis Manesiotis, William Graham, Brendan Gilmore, John McGrath

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19 Citations (Scopus)
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Clostridium difficile is a spore forming bacterium and the leading cause of colitis and antibiotic associated diarrhoea in the developed world. Spores produced by C. difficile are robust and can remain viable for months, leading to prolonged healthcare-associated outbreaks with high mortality. Exposure of C. difficile spores to a novel, non-thermal atmospheric pressure gas plasma was assessed. Factors affecting sporicidal efficacy, including percentage of oxygen in the helium carrier gas admixture, and the effect on spores from different strains representing the five evolutionary C. difficile clades was investigated. Strains from different clades displayed varying resistance to cold plasma. Strain R20291, representing the globally epidemic ribotype 027 type, was the most resistant. However all tested strains displayed a ~3 log reduction in viable spore counts after plasma treatment for 5 minutes. Inactivation of a ribotype 078 strain, the most prevalent clinical type seen in Northern Ireland, was further assessed with respect to surface decontamination, pH, and hydrogen peroxide concentration. Environmental factors affected plasma activity, with dry spores without the presence of organic matter being most susceptible. This study demonstrates that cold atmospheric plasma can effectively inactivate C. difficile spores, and highlights factors that can affect sporicidal activity.
Original languageEnglish
Article number41814
JournalScientific Reports
Early online date03 Feb 2017
Publication statusPublished - 03 Feb 2017


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