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Antimicrob Agents Chemother. 1988 Sep;32(9):1370-4.

Berberine sulfate blocks adherence of Streptococcus pyogenes to epithelial cells, fibronectin, and hexadecane.

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Veterans Administration Medical Center, Memphis, Tennessee.


Berberine sulfate is an alkaloid extracted from the roots and bark of various plants and possesses antibacterial, antifungal, and antiprotozoal activities. Most studies have focused on the bacteriostatic or bactericidal activities of this compound. In this study, we report that berberine sulfate is bacteriostatic for streptococci and that sub-MICs of berberine blocked the adherence of streptococci to host cells, immobilized fibronectin, and hexadecane. Concentrations of berberine below its MIC caused an eightfold increase in release of lipoteichoic acid from the streptococci. Higher concentrations of berberine directly interfered with the adherence of streptococci to host cells either by preventing the complexing of lipoteichoic acid with fibronectin or by dissolution of such complexes once they were formed. Thus, berberine sulfate interferes with the adherence of group A streptococci by two distinct mechanisms: one by releasing the adhesin lipoteichoic acid from the streptococcal cell surface and another by directly preventing or dissolving lipoteichoic acid-fibronectin complexes.

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