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J Ethnopharmacol. 2011 Dec 8;138(3):788-97. doi: 10.1016/j.jep.2011.10.029. Epub 2011 Oct 28.

A novel property of propolis (bee glue): anti-pathogenic activity by inhibition of N-acyl-homoserine lactone mediated signaling in bacteria.

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  • 1Molecular Bioscience and Biotechnology Program, School of Life Sciences, Rochester Institute of Technology, Rochester, NY 14623, USA.



An alternative approach to antibiotics is the development of anti-pathogenic agents to control the bacterial virulome. Such anti-pathogenic agents could target a phenomena known as quorum sensing (QS).


Six bacterial N-acyl-homoserine lactone (AHL)-dependent bioreporter strains were used to evaluate if bee hive glue also known as propolis contains constituents capable of inhibiting QS-controlled AHL signaling. In addition, the effect of propolis on the QS-dependent swarming motility was evaluated with the opportunisitic pathogen, Pseudomonas aeruginosa.


Differences in the propolis tincture samples were identified by physiochemical profiles and absorption spectra. Propolis tinctures at 0.0005% (v/v) that do not affect bacteria biosensor growth or the reporter system monitored were exposed to biosensors with and without the addition an AHL. No AHL signal mimics were found to be present in the propolis tinctures. However, when propolis and an inducer AHL signal were together exposed to five Escherichia coli and a Chromobacterium violaceum biosensor, propolis disrupted the QS bacterial signaling system in liquid- and agar-based bioassays and in C(18) reverse-phase thin-layer plate assays. Swarming motility in the opportunistic pathogen, Pseudomonas aeruginosa PAO1 and its AHL-dependent LasR- and RhlR-based QS behaviors were also inhibited by propolis.


Together, we present evidence that propolis contain compounds that suppress QS responses. In this regard, anti-pathogenic compounds from bee harvested propolis could be identified and isolated and thus will be valuable for the further development of therapeutics to disrupt QS signaling systems which regulate the virulome in many pathogenic bacteria.

Copyright © 2011 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.

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