Plant lectins: A new antimicrobial frontier

Biomed Pharmacother. 2022 Nov;155:113735. doi: 10.1016/j.biopha.2022.113735. Epub 2022 Sep 21.


Pathogenic bacteria, viruses, fungi, parasites, and other microbes constantly change to ensure survival. Several pathogens have adopted strict and intricate strategies to fight medical treatments. Many drugs, frequently prescribed to treat these pathogens, are becoming obsolete and ineffective. Because pathogens have gained the capacity to tolerate or resist medications targeted at them, hence the term antimicrobial resistance (AMR), in that regard, many natural compounds have been routinely used as new antimicrobial agents to treat infections. Thus, plant lectins, the carbohydrate-binding proteins, have been targeted as promising drug candidates. This article reviewed more than 150 published papers on plant lectins with promising antibacterial and antifungal properties. We have also demonstrated how some plant lectins could express a synergistic action as adjuvants to boost the efficacy of obsolete or abandoned antimicrobial drugs. Emphasis has also been given to their plausible mechanism of action. The study further reports on the immunomodulatory effect of plant lectins and how they boost the immune system to curb or prevent infection.

Keywords: Adjuvant; Antimicrobial; Bacteria; Fungal; Immunomodulatory; Infection; Lectins; Plant.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / pharmacology
  • Anti-Infective Agents* / chemistry
  • Anti-Infective Agents* / pharmacology
  • Antifungal Agents* / pharmacology
  • Carbohydrates
  • Plant Lectins / chemistry
  • Plant Lectins / pharmacology


  • Antifungal Agents
  • Plant Lectins
  • Anti-Infective Agents
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Carbohydrates