Recent research, published in the journal Advanced Science, finds that cranberry molecules can make bacteria more sensitive to antibiotics. It also exposes the twofold mechanism by which they do so.
Cranberries belong to a group of evergreen shrubs or straggling vines of the genus Vaccinium. Cranberries are popular and healthful food, because of their high nutrient and antioxidant content. Often, they are referred to as a “superfood.” They are high in vitamin C, vitamin A, and vitamin K and low in calories.
The nutrients in cranberries have been associated with a lesser risk of urinary tract infections, improved immune function, prevention of certain types of cancer, and decreased blood pressure.
The antibiotic resistance crisis
The fast rise of resistant bacteria is occurring worldwide, compromising the effectiveness of antibiotics. When the first patients were treated with antibiotics, bacterial infections have again become a danger. The antibiotic resistance crisis has been credited to the overuse of these medicines, as well as a lack of new drug development by the pharmaceutical industry.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) both have considered antibiotic resistance a “global public health concern.”
The overuse or misuse of antibiotics both in animals and humans has led to the development of drug-resistant “superbugs.” Global migration, overpopulation, and poor sanitation are some of the reasons why the problem of drug resistance has worsened.
Some researchers even notify that “we are on the point of returning to a pre-antibiotic era. This is the era in which minor infections can once again become lethal.”
For this, researchers have been trying to come up with new and sometimes exceptional solutions, turning to insects or fish slime for compounds which could be lethal to superbugs.
Scientists from Institut national de la recherche scientifique in Montreal along with the McGill University in Quebec have decided to discover the potential of cranberries for fighting off infections. Researchers of the study found that an extract from cranberry can make bacteria more sensitive to antibiotics.
Cranberry extract stops antibiotic resistance
There was a widespread belief that cranberry juice helps to treat urinary tract infections (UTIs). This prompted the research team to study cranberries. So, the researchers chose pneumonia-, UTI-, and gastroenteritis-causing bacteria, comprising Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Proteus mirabilis, and Escherichia coli for their study.
They applied cranberry extract to cultures of bacteria and saw that the cranberry molecules made the cultures more sensitive to antibiotics in two ways.
Firstly, cranberry extract made the bacterial membranes more permeable to the antibiotic. Secondly, the cranberry extract disrupted the mechanism that bacteria normally use to remove the antibiotic.
According to the researchers, when we normally treat the bacteria with an antibiotic in the lab, the bacteria ultimately acquire resistance over time. On the other hand, when bacteria were simultaneously treated with an antibiotic and the cranberry extract, no resistance developed. The researchers were very surprised by this and considered it as an important opportunity.
The dual action of the cranberry made it active even at lower doses. After seeing these mechanisms in cell cultures, the researchers replicated their discoveries in an insect model.
According to the researchers, these are really exciting results. The activity is generated by the molecules called proanthocyanidins. There are a number of different kinds of proanthocyanidins, and they may work together to provide this result. However, further research is needed to determine which ones are most effective in synergy with the antibiotic.
The researchers are eager to pursue this study further. They hope to reduce the doses of antibiotics required in veterinary and human medicine.