With the increased occurrence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, alternatives to classical antibiotics are urgently needed for treatment of various infectious diseases. Medicinal plant extracts are among the promising candidates due to their bioactive components. The aim of this study was to prepare niosome-encapsulated Echinacea angustifolia extract and study its efficacy against multidrug-resistant Klebsiella pneumoniae strains. Encapsulation was first optimized by Design of Experiments, followed by the empirical study. The obtained niosomes were further characterized for the size and morphology using dynamic light scattering (DLS), transmission electron microscopy (TEM), and scanning electron microscopy (SEM). Spherical niosomes had a diameter of 142.3 ± 5.1 nm, as measured by DLS. The entrapment efficiency (EE%) of E. angustifolia extract reached up to 77.1% ± 0.3%. The prepared niosomes showed a controlled drug release within the tested 72 h and a storage stability of at least 2 months at both 4 and 25 °C. The encapsulated E. angustifolia displayed up to 16-fold higher antibacterial activity against multidrug-resistant K.pneumoniae strains, compared to the free extract. Additionally, the niosome exhibited negligible cytotoxicity against human foreskin fibroblasts. We anticipate that the results presented herein could contribute to the preparation of other plant extracts with improved stability and antibacterial activity, and will help reduce the overuse of antibiotics by controlled release of natural-derived drugs.
Keywords: Echinacea angustifolia; antibacterial activity; drug delivery; encapsulation; niosome; stability.