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J Microbiol Immunol Infect. 2011 Apr;44(2):144-8. doi: 10.1016/j.jmii.2009.10.001. Epub 2011 Jan 14.

Screening of traditional Chinese medicinal plants for quorum-sensing inhibitors activity.

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Department of Natural Sciences and Science Education, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, Singapore.


The misuse of antibiotics has contributed to widespread development of antimicrobial resistance among clinically significant bacterial species. Alternative approaches other than those using antibiotics are needed in the fight against infectious diseases. Quorum sensing (QS) is an intercellular signaling and gene regulatory mechanism, which is used by a number of opportunistic pathogenic bacteria in determining virulence gene expression. The study of QS may yield another strategy for disease control by interference with QS signals. Scientific research on complementary therapies such as traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) has focused mainly on its antibacterial properties. To test for anti-QS activity, 10 TCM herbs were screened using two biomonitor strains, Chromobacterium violaceum CV026 and Pseudomonas aeruginosa PA01. Interference with violacein (purple pigment) production in CV026 (exogenously supplied with homoserine lactone signals), and swarming in PA01, both QS-regulated phenomena, was used as indication of anti-QS activity. Eight of the selected TCM (80%) yielded QS inhibitors: Prunus armeniaca, Prunella vulgaris, Nelumbo nucifera, Panax notoginseng (root and flower), Punica granatum, Areca catechu, and Imperata cylindrica. Compounds that interfere with QS are present in TCM herbs and these medicines may be a rich source of compounds to combat pathogenic bacteria and reduce the development of antibiotic resistance.

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