Powerful Bacterial Killing by Buckwheat Honeys is Concentration-Dependent, Involves Complete DNA Degradation AND Requires Hydrogen Peroxide
Front Microbiol, Epub 2012 Jul 4
Exposure of bacterial cells to honey inhibits their growth and may cause cell death. Our previous studies showed a cause-effect relationship between hydroxyl radical generated from honey hydrogen peroxide and growth arrest.
Here we explored the role of hydroxyl radicals as inducers of bacterial cells death.
The bactericidal effect of ·OH on antibiotic-resistant clinical isolates of MRSA and VRE and standard bacterial strains of E. coli and B. subtiles was examined using a broth microdilution assay supplemented with 3'-(p-aminophenyl) fluorescein (APF) as the ·OH trap, followed by colony enumeration. Bactericidal activities of eight honeys (six varieties of buckwheat, blueberry and manuka honeys) were analyzed. The MBC/MIC ratio ≤4 and the killing curves indicated that honeys exhibited powerful, concentration-dependent bactericidal effect.
The extent of killing depended on the ratio of honey concentration to bacterial load, indicating that honey dose was critical for its bactericidal efficacy. The killing rate and potency varied between honeys and ranged from over a 6-log(10) to 4-log(10) CFU/ml reduction of viable cells, equivalent to complete bacterial eradication. The maximal killing was associated with the extensive degradation of bacterial DNA. Honey concentration at which DNA degradation occurred correlated with cell death observed in the concentration-dependent cell-kill on agar plates. There was no quantitative relationship between the ·OH generation by honey and bactericidal effect. At the MBC, where there was no surviving cells and no DNA was visible on agarose gels, the ·OH levels were on average 2-3x lower than at Minimum Inhibitory Concentration (MICs) (p < 0.0001).
Pre-treatment of honey with catalase, abolished the bactericidal effect. This raised possibilities that either the abrupt killing prevented accumulation of ·OH (dead cells did not generate ·OH) or that DNA degradation and killing is the actual footprint of ·OH action.
In conclusion, honeys of buckwheat origin exhibited powerful, concentration-dependent bactericidal effect. The killing and DNA degradation showed a cause-effect relationship. Hydrogen peroxide was an active part of honey killing mechanism.