Measuring the Antimicrobial Activity of Lauric Acid against Various Bacteria in Human Gut Microbiota Using a New Method

Cell Transplant. 2019 Dec;28(12):1528-1541. doi: 10.1177/0963689719881366. Epub 2019 Oct 30.


Lauric acid (LA) has a broad spectrum of anti-microbiological activities against enveloped viruses and various bacteria, and might be useful to protect against microbial infection and control the balance and distribution of bacteria in human gut microbiota. It is not necessarily more difficult to measure antimicrobial activity the traditional way, but it is, however, more laborious. In the present study, we developed a new method to measure the antimicrobial activity of LA in multiple samples with a microplate reader. A "test complex" (TC) was produced consisting of 100 μL of agar medium with LA in the bottom layer and 300 μL of broth in the top layer in 96-well deep-well microplates. Afterward, analysis of the broth in the top layer showed that the antimicrobial activity was the same as that of the "control complex," (CC) which consisted of 100 μL of agar medium in the bottom layer and 300 μL of broth with LA in the top layer. Furthermore, evaluation of the antimicrobial effect of the TC when using a microplate reader was the same as that with the use of the colony counting method. The colony counting method has confirmed that the antimicrobial activity of LA when bacteria are inoculated into the broth was equivalent between CC and TC, and we validated this by correlating the number of bacteria with absorbance. In addition, the broth itself in TC was transparent enough that the turbidity of broth can be used as an index of the number of bacteria, which enabled the use of a microplate reader for multiple samples. For human gut microbes, LA was shown to have low antimicrobial activity against commensal lactic acid bacteria, but high antimicrobial activity against pathogenic Bacteroides and Clostridium, suggesting that LA might modulate intestinal health, as confirmed by the proposed method.

Keywords: antimicrobial activity; antimicrobial method; human gut microbiome; lauric acid (LA); screening.

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / pharmacology*
  • Bacteria / growth & development*
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome*
  • Humans
  • Lauric Acids / pharmacology*
  • Microbial Sensitivity Tests


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Lauric Acids
  • lauric acid