Synergy between oxacillin and manuka honey sensitizes methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus to oxacillin

J Antimicrob Chemother. 2012 Jun;67(6):1405-7. doi: 10.1093/jac/dks071. Epub 2012 Mar 1.


Objectives: Honey is an ancient wound remedy that has recently been introduced into modern clinical practice in developed countries. Manuka honey inhibits growth of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) by preventing cell division. In Gram-negative bacteria a synergistic interaction between honey and antibiotics has been suggested. We aimed to determine the effect of manuka honey on oxacillin resistance in MRSA.

Methods: Inhibition of MRSA by manuka honey and oxacillin separately and in combination was tested by disc diffusion, Etest strips, serial broth dilution, chequerboards and growth curves.

Results: Manuka honey and oxacillin interacted synergistically to inhibit MRSA. Manuka honey reversed oxacillin resistance in MRSA, and down-regulation of mecR1 was found in cells treated with manuka honey.

Conclusions: Microarray analysis showed that exposure of MRSA to inhibitory concentrations of manuka honey resulted in down-regulation of mecR1. Here we demonstrated that subinhibitory concentrations of honey in combination with oxacillin restored oxacillin susceptibility to MRSA. Other honey and antibiotic combinations must now be evaluated.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / pharmacology*
  • Bacterial Proteins / biosynthesis
  • Down-Regulation
  • Drug Synergism*
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Honey*
  • Humans
  • Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus / drug effects*
  • Microarray Analysis
  • Oxacillin / pharmacology*


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Bacterial Proteins
  • mecR1 protein, Staphylococcus aureus
  • Oxacillin

Associated data

  • GEO/GSE31592