Effects of benzalkonium salts on eukaryotic and microbial G-protein-mediated processes and surface membranes

R. Patarca, M. A. Fletcher

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Benzalkonium salts comprise a group of positively charged surface-active alkylamine biocides with the general formula alkyldimethylbenzylammonium chloride or bromide. They interact with guanine nucleotide triphosphate-binding proteins (G proteins), thereby affecting signal transduction in a variety of cell types and processes. The present report reviews the known and potential basic science reseach and clinical applications and manifestations of benzalkonium salts. Benzalkonium salts have antiproliferative effects on a variety of cells through G-protein-dependent pathways, affect cytokine gene expression, and are also effective bactericidal, fungicidal, and virucidal agents with multisite (direct and immunologically-mediated) inhibitory activity against many pathogens, including the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), papillomavirus, and herpesviruses. Therefore, benzalkonium salts not only appear to be effective as disinfectants and spermicides but may also prove useful in the prevention and treatment of neoplasias and other diseases, particulaly those linked to viruses and originating at the skin or mucosal surfaces.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)327-356
Number of pages30
JournalCritical reviews in oncogenesis
Issue number3-6
StatePublished - Jan 1 1995


  • bactericide
  • cytokines
  • Draize test
  • fungicide
  • human immunodeficiency virus
  • natural killer cell cytotoxic activity
  • T-cell proliferation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research


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