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Steroidal alkaloids and conessine from the medicinal plant Holarrhena antidysenterica restore antibiotic efficacy in a Galleria mellonella model of multidrug-resistant Pseudomonas aeruginosa infection

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Thanyaluck Siriyong, Supayang Piyawan Voravuthikunchai, Peter John Coote

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Background This study aimed to evaluate the efficacy of combinations of steroidal alkaloids and conessine from the Thai medicinal plant Holarrhena antidysenterica with antibiotics against Pseudomonas aeruginosa strains possessing different efflux-pump-mediated multidrug-resistant (MDR) phenotypes in a Galleria mellonella infection model.

Methods P. aeruginosa strains with defined mutations that result in the overexpression of the MexAB-OprM, MexCD-OprJ and MexEF-OprN efflux pumps, and a strain with all three of these pumps deleted, were used. In vitro, the effect of combinations of steroidal alkaloids and conessine with antibiotics was compared with antibiotic treatment alone via MIC determination and time-kill assays. Efficacy of combinations of the steroidal alkaloids and conessine with levofloxacin were compared with monotherapies against infections in G. mellonella larvae by measuring larval mortality and bacterial burden.
Results Combination therapies of conessine or steroidal alkaloids with levofloxacin enhanced bacterial inhibition in vitro and restored antibiotic efficacy in vivo compared to the constituent monotherapies. Neither conessine nor the steroidal alkaloids induced any detectable toxicity in G. mellonella larvae. The enhanced efficacy of the combination treatments was most pronounced with conessine and correlated with reduced larval burden of infecting P. aeruginosa. Notably, the enhanced efficacy of conessine/levofloxacin combinations was only detected in the parent strain and strains that overexpressed the MexAB-OprM or MexEF-OprN efflux systems.
Conclusions Steroidal alkaloids from Holarrhena antidysenterica, and particularly the principal active ingredient conessine, restored levofloxacin efficacy against resistant P. aeruginosa strains possessing efflux-mediated MDR phenotypes. The compounds should be investigated further as a potential novel therapy.


Original languageEnglish
Article number285
Number of pages10
JournalBMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Publication statusPublished - 19 Oct 2018

    Research areas

  • Conessine, Efflux pump inhibitor, Galleria mellonella, Holarrhena antidysenterica, Mex efflux systems

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