APR 20, 2015 11:18 AM PDT

Could Maple Syrup Help Cut Use of Antibiotics?

WRITTEN BY: Judy O'Rourke
45 2641
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
MAY 08, 2018
Cell & Molecular Biology
MAY 08, 2018
Advances in the Study of the Oral Microbiome
Scientists are learning more about the microbes that we carry in and on our bodies, and how they impact our health.
JUN 04, 2018
Microbiology
JUN 04, 2018
Neutralizing Infections with Nanotechnology
Clearing bacterial infections from the body can present challenges. Engineers are trying to use nanorobots for such situations.
JUN 17, 2018
Microbiology
JUN 17, 2018
Humans & Mammals Have Very Different Skin Microbiomes
People share many genes with other organisms, but our skin microbiome diverges.
JUL 01, 2018
Microbiology
JUL 01, 2018
Using Bacteria to Help Power Space Missions
There are microbes that have found a way to use electricity for power, and scientists want to see how they can help us.
JUL 14, 2018
Microbiology
JUL 14, 2018
Little-known STI may Become a Superbug
Scientists are growing concerned about a common sexually transmitted infection that not many people know about - MG or MGen.
AUG 09, 2018
Cardiology
AUG 09, 2018
GutHeart Links Microbes and Heart Failure
GutHeart seeks to link gut microbial communities with inflammatory and metabolic pathways in the cardiovascular system.
Loading Comments...