Antimicrobial properties of hydrophobic compounds in garlic: Allicin, vinyldithiin, ajoene and diallyl polysulfides

Exp Ther Med. 2020 Feb;19(2):1550-1553. doi: 10.3892/etm.2019.8388. Epub 2019 Dec 27.


Allium plants, such as garlic, onion and leek have long been known to be effective in the therapy of infectious diseases. In particular, garlic has a greater antimicrobial activity than other Allium plants as it contains several hydrophobic antimicrobial compounds, such as allicin, vinyldithiins, ajoenes and diallyl polysulfides. Allicin is a characteristic sulfur-containing compound found in raw garlic produced from alliin and exhibits antimicrobial activity against both Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria. In addition, allicin has been reported to inhibit the biofilm formation of bacteria, which is a major cause of bacterial resistance to the antibiotic treatment of infections, by regulating quorum sensing in microorganisms. Other hydrophobic compounds also have similar inhibitory effects on bacteria as allicin. These biological properties of garlic-derived hydrophobic compounds can be used to enhance the effects of existing drugs and may thus be used in the treatment of infections, such as by preventing drug resistance through the inhibition of biofilm formation. In this review, we summarize the effects of hydrophobic compounds of garlic on bacteria.

Keywords: antimicrobial activity; biofilm; garlic; hydrophobic compound.

Publication types

  • Review