A new study suggests that a natural antioxidant that is commonly found in green tea may help increase antibiotics potential to combat infections induced by certain strains of bacteria that are becoming more resistant to modern medicines.
The compound, epigallocatechin (EGCG), can restore the effectiveness of aztreonam. It is an antibacterial usually used to treat infections caused by Pseudomonas aeruginosa, a bacterial pathogen. P. aeruginosa delivers a variety of conditions–from ear and blood infections to skin rashes–and is considered by world leaders to be a “serious” global threat.
“The World Health Organization has identified antibiotic-resistant Pseudomonas aeruginosa as a critical threat to human health. We have shown that, in conjunction with antibiotics already in use, we can effectively eliminate such threats with the use of natural products,” said the study co-author Roberto La Ragione of the University of Surrey in a statement.
Resistance makes bacteria stronger and more troublesome to kill and has been observed in human and wildlife communities in bacteria. Approximately 51,000 infections are recorded in the US each year in individuals who had recently been to a hospital or doctor’s office, more than 6,000 (13 percent) of whom are resistant to various drugs, leading in approximately 400 fatalities each year.
To determine the impacts of EGCG when used in conjunction with aztreonam, scientists performed in vitro testing to see how both separately and when used in tandem communicated with P. aeruginosa.
When used together, the “considerably increased bacterial killing” of EGCG and aztreonam is compared to when used separately. Besides, moth larvae in vitro testing of the two verified these results, while human skin cell testing shows minimal to no toxicity.
The researchers believe that EGCG may help promote increased uptake of aztreonam by increasing permeability in the bacteria and could also interfere with a “biochemical pathway” linked to antibiotic susceptibility. Published in the Journal of Medical Microbiology, the findings could help inform how healthcare professionals combat antibiotic resistance.
“Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is a serious threat to global public health. Without effective antibiotics, the success of medical treatments will be compromised. We urgently need to develop novel antibiotics in the fight against AMR,” said study author Jonathan Betts, from the University of Surrey, in a statement. “Natural products such as EGCG, used in combination with currently licensed antibiotics, maybe a way of improving their effectiveness and clinically useful lifespan.”
The study authors remark that further developments of alternatives to antibiotics may be beneficial in future clinical settings.
Journal Reference: Journal of Medical Microbiology