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FEMS Microbiol Lett. 2010 May;306(1):54-60. doi: 10.1111/j.1574-6968.2010.01931.x. Epub 2010 Feb 19.

Capsaicin, a potential inhibitor of cholera toxin production in Vibrio cholerae.

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Graduate School of Life and Environmental Sciences, Osaka Prefecture University, Osaka, Japan.


The use of natural compounds as inhibitory agents for virulence factor production is a new approach to overcome increased antimicrobial resistance in pathogenic bacteria. In this study, we examined whether red chilli (Capsicum annuum) contains any such compound(s) that can repress the cholera toxin (CT) production in Vibrio cholerae. We found that the methanol extract of red chilli could inhibit CT production in recently emerged V. cholerae O1 El Tor variant strains without affecting their viability. Interestingly, capsaicin, a well-studied active component of red chilli, also drastically inhibited CT production in V. cholerae strains belonging to various serogroups including variants. Real-time quantitative reverse transcription-PCR assay revealed that capsaicin effectively repressed the transcription of ctxA, tcpA and toxT genes, but not of toxR and toxS genes. On the contrary, capsaicin significantly enhanced the transcription of the hns gene, the product of which is known to regulate negatively the transcription of ctxAB, tcpA and toxT genes. These results suggest that capsaicin might act as a potent repressor for CT production possibly by enhancing the transcription of hns.

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