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How sweet it is: Maple syrup aids antibiotic performance

Recent research shows that bacteria become more susceptible to antibiotics when the antibiotics are combined with a phenolic-rich maple syrup extract (PRMSE).

Early findings suggest this combination of maple syrup extract and antibiotics has the potential to reduce antibiotic usage while slowing development of drug-resistant bacteria linked to the overuse of antibiotics.

Professor Nathalie Tufenkji’s research team at McGill University, Montreal, discovered that by combining PRMSE with the antibiotic, the two worked synergistically and enabled the antibiotics to destroy even resistant communities of bacteria known as microfilms.

The extract also affected gene expression of bacteria by repressing a number of genes linked to antibiotic resistance and virulence.

Further tests revealed that PRMSE was able to increase outer-membrane permeability and effectively inhibit efflux-pump activity of all bacteria in the Gram-negative clinical strains of Escherichia coli, Proteus mirabilis and Pseudomonas aeruginosa.

While in vivo tests and clinical trials are still needed, Tufenkji says, “The findings suggest a potentially simple and effective approach for reducing antibiotic usage. I could see maple syrup extract being incorporated eventually, for example, into the capsules of [human] antibiotics.”

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