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Eur J Pharm Sci. 2013 Jan 23;48(1-2):80-6. doi: 10.1016/j.ejps.2012.09.016. Epub 2012 Oct 27.

Reversal of efflux mediated antifungal resistance underlies synergistic activity of two monoterpenes with fluconazole.

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Department of Biosciences, Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi 110 025, India.


Thymol (THY) and carvacrol (CARV), the principal chemical components of thyme oil have long been known for their wide use in medicine due to antimicrobial and disinfectant properties. This study, however, draws attention to a possible synergistic antifungal effect of these monoterpenes with azole antimycotic-fluconazole. Resistance to azoles in Candida albicans involves over-expression of efflux-pump genes MDR1, CDR1, CDR2 or mutations and over-expression of target gene ERG11. The inhibition of drug efflux pumps is considered a feasible strategy to overcome clinical antifungal resistance. To put forward this approach, we investigated the combination effects of these monoterpenes and FLC against 38 clinically obtained FLC-sensitive, and eleven FLC-resistant Candida isolates. Synergism was observed with combinations of THY-FLC and CARV-FLC evaluated by checkerboard microdilution method and nature of the interactions was calculated by FICI. In addition, antifungal activity was assessed using agar-diffusion and time-kill curves. The drug efflux activity was determined using two dyes, Rhodamine6G (R6G) and fluorescent Hoechst 33342. No significant differences were observed in dye uptakes between FLC-susceptible and resistant isolates, incubated in glucose free buffer. However, a significantly higher efflux was recorded in FLC-resistant isolates when glucose was added. Both monoterpenes inhibited efflux by 70-90%, showing their high potency to block drug transporter pumps. Significant differences, in the expression levels of CDR1 and MDR1, induced by monoterpenes revealed reversal of FLC-resistance. The selectively fungicidal characteristics and ability to restore FLC susceptibility in resistant isolates signify a promising candidature of THY and CARV as antifungal agents in combinational treatments for candidiasis.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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