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FEMS Microbiol Lett. 1997 Oct 1;155(1):67-71.

Blepharismin produced by a protozoan Blepharisma functions as an antibiotic effective against methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus.

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Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Hiroshima University School of Medicine, Japan.


A ciliated protozoan, Blepharisma japonicum, produces a photosensitive red pigment, blepharismin (BLR). This study showed that the pigment inhibits the growth of Gram-positive bacteria, such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) resistant to arbekacin (ABK), which is the most effective aminoglycoside antibiotic against MRSA and used world wide. Although the minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC) of BLR to the ABK-resistant MRSA strain was 6.25 micrograms/ml in dark, it was decreased to 1.25 micrograms/ml by irradiation with white light of 65 W/m2 for 30 min, suggesting that the antibacterial activity of BLR is photoactivated. Our findings suggested that the antibacterial activity of BLR in dark is due to inhibition of protein synthesis. In addition, we found that BLR is bactericidal and enhances synergistically the antibacterial activity of ABK.

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