Chemical composition and antibacterial activities of Illicium verum against antibiotic-resistant pathogens

J Med Food. 2010 Oct;13(5):1254-62. doi: 10.1089/jmf.2010.1086.


In recent years, human pathogenic microorganisms have developed multiple drug resistance and caused serious nosocomial infections. In this study, we identified four new antimicrobial compounds from the Chinese herbal medicine Illicium verum and assessed their antibacterial efficacies. The supercritical CO₂ and ethanol extracts of Illicium verum showed substantial antibacterial activity against 67 clinical drug-resistant isolates, including 27 Acinetobacter baumannii, 20 Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and 20 methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. The diethyl ether (EE) fraction obtained from partition extraction and supercritical CO₂ extracts revealed an antibacterial activity with a minimum inhibitory concentration value of 0.15-0.70 mg/mL and 0.11 mg/mL, respectively. The EE fraction of I. verum showed synergetic effects with some commercial antibiotics. The antimicrobial mechanism was investigated with killing curves and scanning electron microscopy observation. The chemical components of the extracts were analyzed by spectrophotometry; (E)-anethole, anisyl acetone, anisyl alcohol, and anisyl aldehyde exhibited antibacterial activity against different clinical isolates. These extracts from I. verum can be further developed into antibiotic medicines due to their proven antibacterial activity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acinetobacter baumannii / drug effects
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / analysis*
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / pharmacology*
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / toxicity
  • Cell Survival / drug effects
  • Chromatography, Supercritical Fluid
  • Drug Resistance, Bacterial*
  • Drugs, Chinese Herbal
  • Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry
  • Humans
  • Illicium / chemistry*
  • Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus / drug effects
  • Microbial Sensitivity Tests
  • Microscopy, Electron, Scanning
  • Phytotherapy
  • Plant Extracts / chemistry*
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology*
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa / drug effects


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Drugs, Chinese Herbal
  • Plant Extracts