Chlorhexidine inhibits L1 cell adhesion molecule-mediated neurite outgrowth in vitro

Aaron M. Milstone, Penny Bamford, Susan W. Aucott, Ningfeng Tang, Kimberly R. White, Cynthia F. Bearer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Background:Chlorhexidine is a skin disinfectant that reduces skin and mucous membrane bacterial colonization and inhibits organism growth. Despite numerous studies assessing chlorhexidine safety in term infants, residual concerns have limited its use in hospitalized neonates, especially low-birth-weight preterm infants. The aim of this study was to assess the potential neurotoxicity of chlorhexidine on the developing central nervous system using a well-established in vitro model of neurite outgrowth that includes laminin and L1 cell adhesion molecule (L1) as neurite outgrowth-promoting substrates.Methods:Cerebellar granule neurons are plated on poly l-lysine, L1, or laminin. Chlorhexidine, hexachlorophene, or their excipients are added to the media. Neurons are grown for 24 h, fixed, and neurite length is measured.Results:Chlorhexidine significantly reduced the length of neurites grown on L1 but not on laminin. Chlorhexidine concentrations as low as 125 ng/ml statistically significantly reduced neurite length on L1. Hexachlorophene did not affect neurite length.Conclusion:Chlorhexidine at concentrations detected in the blood following topical applications in preterm infants specifically inhibited L1-mediated neurite outgrowth of cerebellar granule neurons. It is now vital to determine whether the blood-brain barrier is permeable to chlorhexidine in preterm infants.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)8-13
Number of pages6
JournalPediatric research
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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