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
OCT 18, 2019
Genetics & Genomics
OCT 18, 2019
Does Diet Shape Our Microbiome More than Genetics?
Recent findings from mouse studies have concluded that genetics may have a more important role than environmental factors in the composition of the microbi...
OCT 18, 2019
Microbiology
OCT 18, 2019
Picturing a New Kind of Antibiotic
Scientists have deciphered the X-ray crystal structure of an enzyme that generates a unique broad spectrum antibiotic called obafluorin....
OCT 18, 2019
Microbiology
OCT 18, 2019
Researchers Find That Rift Valley Fever Can Spread in US Livestock
Mosquitoes spread the virus that causes Rift Valley Fever, which is usually seen in cattle but can infect people....
OCT 18, 2019
Microbiology
OCT 18, 2019
Harmful Algae Blooms Blamed for the Deaths of Several Pets
People and pet owners, especially in the Southeast but all across the nation are being warned to watch out for harmful algae blooms....
OCT 18, 2019
Genetics & Genomics
OCT 18, 2019
Gut Microbes can Significantly Impact Host Gene Expression
We all carry a vast number of microbes with us, and the microbial community in the gut is closely linked to our health and well-being....
OCT 18, 2019
Cell & Molecular Biology
OCT 18, 2019
Why TB and HIV Occur Together So Often
Tuberculosis (TB) is among the world’s leading causes of death, and is the primary cause of death in people who are HIV-positive....
Loading Comments...