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Open Access Propionic acid and its esterified derivative suppress the growth of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus USA300

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Previously, we demonstrated that Propionibacterium acnes, a human skin commensal bacterium, ferments glycerol into short-chain fatty acids, including propionic acid. Propionic acid suppressed the growth of Staphylococcus aureus USA300, a community-acquired methicillin-resistant bacterium, in vitro and in vivo. In this study, it is demonstrated that the anti-USA300 activity of propionic acid persisted after buffering the acid with 4-(2-hydroxyethyl)-1- piperazineethanesulfonic acid. This suggests that the growth suppression of USA300 mainly resulted from the antimicrobial activity of propionic acid per se and not from the acidity of the medium. In addition, proprionic acid significantly reduced the intracellular pH of USA300 and exhibited broad-spectrum antimicrobial activity against Escherichia coli and Candida albicans. P. acnes showed a higher tolerance to propionic acid. Next, an esterified derivative of propionic acid was synthesised. Propionic acid and the esterified derivative were equivalent in their efficacy to suppress the growth of USA300 in vitro. The esterified derivative thus provides an alternative to propionic acid as an antimicrobial agent against S. aureus.
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Keywords: Propionibacterium acnes; Staphylococcus aureus; fermentation; probiotics; propionic acid

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: June 1, 2014

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  • Beneficial Microbes is a peer-reviewed scientific journal with a specific area of focus: the promotion of the science of microbes beneficial to the health and wellbeing of man and animal. The journal contains original research papers and critical reviews in all areas dealing with beneficial microbes in both the small and large intestine, together with opinions, a calendar of forthcoming beneficial microbes-related events and book reviews. The journal takes a multidisciplinary approach and focuses on a broad spectrum of issues, including safety aspects of pro- & prebiotics, regulatory aspects, mechanisms of action, health benefits for the host, optimal production processes, screening methods, (meta)genomics, proteomics and metabolomics, host and bacterial physiology, application, and role in health and disease in man and animal. Beneficial Microbes is intended to serve the needs of researchers and professionals from the scientific community and industry, as well as those of policy makers and regulators.
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