APR 20, 2015 11:18 AM PDT

Could Maple Syrup Help Cut Use of Antibiotics?

WRITTEN BY: Judy O'Rourke
A concentrated extract of maple syrup makes disease-causing bacteria more susceptible to antibiotics, according to laboratory experiments by researchers at McGill University, Montreal.

The findings, which will be published in the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology, suggest that combining maple syrup extract with common antibiotics could increase the microbes' susceptibility, leading to lower antibiotic usage. Overuse of antibiotics fuels the emergence of drug-resistant bacteria, which has become a major public-health concern worldwide.
Vimal Maisuria (left) and Nathalie Tufenkji in the lab.
Professor Nathalie Tufenkji's research team in McGill's Department of Chemical Engineering prepared a concentrated extract of maple syrup that consists mainly of phenolic compounds. Maple syrup, made by concentrating the sap from North American maple trees, is a rich source of phenolic compounds.

The researchers tested the extract's effect in the laboratory on infection-causing strains of certain bacteria, including E. coli and Proteus mirabilis (a common cause of urinary tract infection).

By itself, the extract was mildly effective in combating bacteria. But the maple syrup extract was particularly effective when applied in combination with antibiotics. The extract also acted synergistically with antibiotics in destroying resistant communities of bacteria known as biofilms, which are common in difficult-to-treat infections, such as catheter-associated urinary tract infections.

"We would have to do in vivo tests, and eventually clinical trials, before we can say what the effect would be in humans," Tufenkji says. "But the findings suggest a potentially simple and effective approach for reducing antibiotic usage. I could see maple syrup extract being incorporated eventually, for example, into the capsules of antibiotics."

The scientists also found that the extract affects the gene expression of the bacteria, by repressing a number of genes linked with antibiotic resistance and virulence.

All maple syrup samples used in the study were purchased at local markets in Montreal, then frozen until the beginning of each experiment, which involved a series of steps to produce the phenolic-rich extract.

Tufenkji, who holds the Canada Research Chair in Biocolloids and Surfaces, has also studied the potential for cranberry derivatives to fight infection-causing bacteria.

The article is "Polyphenolic Extract from Maple Syrup Potentiates Antibiotic Susceptibility and Reduces Biofilm Formation of Pathogenic Bacteria," by Vimal B. Maisuria, Zeinab Hosseinidoust, and Nathalie Tufenkji.

[Source: McGill University]
About the Author
  • Judy O'Rourke worked as a newspaper reporter before becoming chief editor of Clinical Lab Products magazine. As a freelance writer today, she is interested in finding the story behind the latest developments in medicine and science, and in learning what lies ahead.
You May Also Like
APR 20, 2020
Microbiology
APR 20, 2020
A Neuropsychiatric Crisis Might Follow COVID-19
Past pandemics have been accompanied by a rise in a variety of mental health and neurological problems.
MAY 04, 2020
Genetics & Genomics
MAY 04, 2020
Molecular Tools Reveal More About the Impacts of the Slave Trade
Scientists still have a lot to learn about the numerous and varied consequences of the transatlantic slave trade, which ...
MAY 09, 2020
Microbiology
MAY 09, 2020
Mysterious Illness in Children May be Related to COVID-19
Once thought to be mostly unaffected by the virus, rare cases of an inflammatory syndrome are emerging in some kids that ...
MAY 12, 2020
Microbiology
MAY 12, 2020
Understanding How Giant Viruses Can Infect Cells
Melting permafrost has been revealing some remarkably well-preserved and extremely old stuff, like a prehistoric puppy a ...
JUN 15, 2020
Microbiology
JUN 15, 2020
Research Shows Wearing a Face Mask Reduces the Risk of COVID-19 Infection
We've known that face masks can reduce the likelihood that asymptomatic people will spread the illness. But they are als ...
JUN 24, 2020
Microbiology
JUN 24, 2020
Genetic Variations Can Affect the Gut Microbiome
The small variations in the human genome aren't the only thing that make us unique. We also each carry communities of mi ...
Loading Comments...