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ISME J. 2008 Dec;2(12):1243-6. doi: 10.1038/ismej.2008.79. Epub 2008 Aug 28.

Abrogation of the resistance of choline-induced Pseudomonas aeruginosa virulence to sub-MIC erythromycin by ethanol.

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  • 1The Mina and Everard Goodman Faculty of Life Sciences, Bar-Ilan University, Ramat-Gan, Israel.


Despite Pseudomonas aeruginosa antibiotic resistance, erythromycin (ERM, a macrolide) at subinhibitory concentration (sub-MIC) reduces its pathogenicity. We assessed ERM effects on P. aeruginosa in cultures containing choline (Ch) without and with 1% ethanol (Et) addition. Ch, as an osmoprotectant, increases the following virulence factors (VIFs): lectins (haemagglutination); proteases (casein and elastin lysis); haemolytic phospholipase C (PLC-H; haemolysis); pyocyanin (pigment o.d.) and autoinducers (violacein bioassay). Ethanol also increases lectins, proteases, pyocyanin, autoinducers and rhamnolipid (RHAL; haemolysis) formation, but reduces Ch-induced PLC and protease (elastase) activities. ERM has been shown to totally suppress the Et-induced VIFs, whereas partially reducing the Ch-induced ones. Unexpectedly, ERM combination with 1% Et dramatically annuls the Ch-induced factors. Et contribution might be attributed to its effect on cell membrane, displaying synergism with ERM, whereas antagonizing Ch osmoprotective potential and shifting gene expression. This information is worth further molecular investigation and clinical consideration for skin infection therapy.

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