Shiga toxin-producing enterohaemorrhagic Escherichia coli (EHEC) O157:H7 is an important foodborne pathogen. Baicalein (5,6,7-trihydroxylflavone), a flavone isolated from the roots of Scutellaria baicalensis, is considered as a potential antibacterial agent to control foodborne pathogens. Among seven compounds selected by in silico screening of the natural compound database, baicalein inhibited the cytotoxicity of both Shiga toxins 1 and 2 (Stx1 and Stx2) against Vero cells after pretreatment at 0.13 mmol/L. In addition, baicalein reduced the susceptibility of Vero cells to both Stx1 and Stx2. Real-time qPCR showed that baicalein increased transcription of stx1 but not of stx2. However, baicalein had no effects on production or secretion of Stx1 or Stx2. Docking models suggested that baicalein formed a stable structure with StxB pentamer with low intramolecular energy. The results demonstrate that inhibitory activity of baicalein against the cytotoxicity of both Stx1 and Stx2 might be due to of the formation of a binding structure inside the pocket of the Stx1B and Stx2B pentamers.
Keywords: Stx; baicalein; cytotoxicity; enterohaemorrhagic Escherichia coli; inhibition.