In vitro evaluation of antifungal activity of monolaurin against Candida albicans biofilms

PeerJ. 2016 Jun 22;4:e2148. doi: 10.7717/peerj.2148. eCollection 2016.


Monolaurin (also known as glycerol monolaurate) is a natural compound found in coconut oil and is known for its protective biological activities as an antimicrobial agent. The nature of oral candidiasis and the increased antifungal resistance demand the search for novel antifungal therapeutic agents. In this study, we examine the antifungal activity of monolaurin against Candida albicans biofilms (strain ATCC:SC5314/MYA2876) in vitro and investigate whether monolaurin can alter gene expression of host inflammatory cytokines, IL-1α and IL-1β. In a co-culture model, oral fibroblast cells were cultured simultaneously with C. albicans for 24 hrs followed by the exposure to treatments of monolaurin (3.9-2,500 µM), positive control fluconazole (32.2 µM), and vehicle control group (1% ethanol), which was a model used to evaluate the cytotoxicity of monolaurin on fibroblasts as well as to analyze morphological characteristics of biofilms through fluorescence microscopy. In addition, the co-culture model was used for RNA extraction of oral fibroblasts to assess gene expression of host inflammatory cytokines, using quantitative real-time PCR. Our results showed the MIC and MFC of monolaurin were in the range 62.5-125 µM and 125-250 µM, respectively. Biofilm antifungal assay showed significant reduction in Log (CFU/ml) of biofilms treated with 1,250 and 2,500 µM of 1-monolaurin when compared to the control groups . There was also a significant down-regulation of IL-1α and IL-1β in the co-culture treated with monolaurin. It can be concluded that monolaurin has a potential antifungal activity against C. albicans and can modulate the pro-inflammatory response of the host.

Keywords: Antimicrobial agent; Biofilms; Candida albicans; Host inflammatory response; In vitro; MIC/MFC; Monolaurin; Oral candidiasis; Proteolytic enzymes; Virulence factors.