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J Antimicrob Chemother. 2012 Oct;67(10):2401-8. doi: 10.1093/jac/dks232. Epub 2012 Jul 17.

Capsaicin, a novel inhibitor of the NorA efflux pump, reduces the intracellular invasion of Staphylococcus aureus.

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Clinical Microbiology Division, Indian Institute of Integrative Medicine (CSIR), Canal Road, Jammu 180001, India.



To delineate the role of capsaicin (8-methyl-N-vanillyl-6-nonenamide) as an inhibitor of the NorA efflux pump and its impact on invasion of macrophages by Staphylococcus aureus.


Capsaicin in combination with ciprofloxacin was tested for activity against S. aureus SA-1199B (NorA overproducing), SA-1199 (wild-type) and SA-K1758 (norA knockout). The role of NorA in the intracellular invasion of S. aureus and the ability of capsaicin to inhibit this invasion was established in J774 macrophage cell lines. The three-dimensional structure of NorA was predicted using an in silico approach and docking studies of capsaicin were performed.


Capsaicin significantly reduced the MIC of ciprofloxacin for S. aureus SA-1199 and SA-1199B. Furthermore, capsaicin also extended the post-antibiotic effect of ciprofloxacin by 1.1 h at MIC concentration. There was a decrease in mutation prevention concentration of ciprofloxacin when combined with capsaicin. Inhibition of ethidium bromide efflux by NorA-overproducing S. aureus SA-1199B confirmed the role of capsaicin as a NorA efflux pump inhibitor (EPI). The most significant finding of this study was the ability of capsaicin to reduce the intracellular invasion of S. aureus SA-1199B (NorA overproducing) in J774 macrophage cell lines by 2 log(10).


This study, for the first time, has shown that capsaicin, a novel EPI, not only inhibits the NorA efflux pump of S. aureus but also reduces the invasiveness of S. aureus, thereby reducing its virulence.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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