Effect of licorice extract on cell viability, biofilm formation and exotoxin production by Staphylococcus aureus

J Food Sci Technol. 2016 Feb;53(2):1092-100. doi: 10.1007/s13197-015-2131-6. Epub 2015 Dec 10.


Staphylococcus aureus is one of the most significant clinical pathogen, as it causes infections to humans and animals. Even though several antibiotics and other treatments have been used to control S. aureus infections and intoxication, bacterium is able to adapt, survive and produces exotoxins. Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra L.) has been used traditionally in various medicinal (antimicrobial) preparations, and Glycyrrhizic acid (GA) is the major active constituents present in it. In the present investigation the effect of licorice extract on methicillin susceptible S. aureus (FRI 722) and methicillin resistant S. aureus (ATCC 43300) growth and toxin production was studied. The MIC of licorice extract was found to be 0.25 and 2.5 mg GA ml(-1) against S. aureus FRI 722 and S. aureus ATCC 43300, respectively. Inhibition of biofilm formation was observed even at very low concentration (25 μg GA ml(-1)). Gradual decrease in expression and production of exotoxins such as α and β hemolysins and enterotoxin B was observed with the increasing concentrations of licorice extract, however, suboptimal concentration induced the expression of some of the virulence genes. This study indicated efficacy of licorice extract in controlling growth and pathogenicity of both methicillin susceptible and methicillin resistant S. aureus, however, the mechanisms of survival and toxin production at suboptimal concentration needs further study.

Keywords: Biofilm; Exotoxins; Glycyrrhizic acid; Staphylococcus aureus; Western blot.