Antibacterial actions of fatty acids and monoglycerides against Helicobacter pylori

FEMS Immunol Med Microbiol. 2003 May 15;36(1-2):9-17. doi: 10.1016/S0928-8244(03)00008-7.


The bactericidal potencies of saturated and unsaturated fatty acids (FAs) and monoglycerides (MGs) against Helicobacter pylori were determined following short incubations with freshly harvested cells over a range of pHs. FAs and their derivatives with an equivalent-carbon number of 12 were the most potent: lauric acid had a minimum bactericidal concentration (MBC) at pH 7.4 of 1 mM, myristoleic and linolenic acid were the most potent unsaturated FAs (MBCs of 0.5 mM, pH 7.4), and monolaurin was the most potent MG (MBC 0.5 mM). Potencies of saturated FAs were increased sharply by lowering pH, and a decrease of only 0.5 pH units can cause a change from non-lethal to lethal conditions. Conversely, the bactericidal action of monolaurin was not pH-dependent. The bactericidal potencies of unsaturated FAs increased with degree of unsaturation. When more than one FA or FA plus MGs were present, their combined action was additive. Urea and endogenous urease did not protect H. pylori from the bactericidal action of FAs. These results suggest that H. pylori present in the stomach contents (but not necessarily within the mucus barrier) should be rapidly killed by the millimolar concentrations of FAs and MGs that are produced by pre-intestinal lipase(s) acting on suitable triglycerides such as milk fat.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / pharmacology*
  • Fatty Acids, Nonesterified / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Fatty Acids, Nonesterified / pharmacology*
  • Fatty Acids, Unsaturated / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Fatty Acids, Unsaturated / pharmacology*
  • Glycerides / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Glycerides / pharmacology*
  • Helicobacter pylori / drug effects*
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
  • Microbial Sensitivity Tests
  • Urea / pharmacology
  • Urease / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Urease / pharmacology


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Fatty Acids, Nonesterified
  • Fatty Acids, Unsaturated
  • Glycerides
  • Urea
  • Urease