The pomegranate (Punica granatum) sarcotesta contains a chitin-binding lectin (PgTeL) with antibacterial activity against human pathogenic species. In this work, the structural stability of PgTeL was evaluated by fluorimetric analysis and the lectin was evaluated for cytotoxicity to human peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) and antifungal activity against Candida albicans and Candida krusei. PgTeL folding was impaired when lectin was incubated at pH≥6.0. On the other hand, the lectin did not undergo unfolding even when heated at 100°C. PgTeL (1, 10, and 100μg/mL) was not cytotoxic to PBMCs. Antifungal activity was detected for C. albicans (MIC: 25μg/mL; MFC: 50μg/mL) and C. krusei (MIC and MFC of 12.5μg/mL). Treatment of yeast cells with PgTeL resulted in decrease of intracellular ATP content even at sub-inhibitory concentrations (½MIC and ¼MIC) and induced lipid peroxidation. In addition, PgTeL damaged the integrity of fungal cell wall of both species, with more pronounced effects in C. krusei. The lectin showed significant antibiofilm activity on C. albicans at sub-inhibitory concentrations (0.195 and 0.39μg/mL). In conclusion, PgTeL is an anti-Candida agent whose action mechanism involves oxidative stress, energetic collapse, damage to the cell wall and rupture of yeast cells.
Keywords: Antifungal activity; Biofilm; Cell wall; Lectin; Pomegranate.
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