Surfactants in general are well known for their ability of disrupting cell membranes and damaging microbes. However, cationic surfactants and lipids exhibit interesting additional properties because they can easily be targeted to oppositely charged biological structures such as cells or biomolecules of interest. This review emphasizes physicochemical and antimicrobial properties of cationic lipids and surfactants aiming at the establishment of structure-activity relationships. In special, cationic lipids forming bilayers revealed multiple abilities to carry antibiotics, drugs, genes, and antigens sometimes exhibiting synergic effects with the drug carried or displaying anti-infective properties by themselves.
Keywords: Antimicrobial activity, cationic amphiphiles, cationic lipids, cell lysis, positive charge-antimicrobial activity relationship
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