Resveratrol antagonizes antimicrobial lethality and stimulates recovery of bacterial mutants

Yuanli Liu, Jinan Zhou, Yilin Qu, Xinguang Yang, Guojing Shi, Xiuhong Wang, Yuzhi Hong, Karl Drlica, Xilin Zhao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Reactive oxygen species (ROS; superoxide, peroxide, and hydroxyl radical) are thought to contribute to the rapid bactericidal activity of diverse antimicrobial agents. The possibility has been raised that consumption of antioxidants in food may interfere with the lethal action of antimicrobials. Whether nutritional supplements containing antioxidant activity are also likely to interfere with antimicrobial lethality is unknown. To examine this possibility, resveratrol, a popular antioxidant dietary supplement, was added to cultures of Escherichia coli and Staphylococcus aureus that were then treated with antimicrobial and assayed for bacterial survival and the recovery of mutants resistant to an unrelated antimicrobial, rifampicin. Resveratrol, at concentrations likely to be present during human consumption, caused a 2- to 3-fold reduction in killing during a 2-hr treatment with moxifloxacin or kanamycin. At higher, but still subinhibitory concentrations, resveratrol reduced antimicrobial lethality by more than 3 orders of magnitude. Resveratrol also reduced the increase in reactive oxygen species (ROS) characteristic of treatment with quinolone (oxolinic acid). These data support the general idea that the lethal activity of some antimicrobials involves ROS. Surprisingly, subinhibitory concentrations of resveratrol promoted (2- to 6-fold) the recovery of rifampicinresistant mutants arising from the action of ciprofloxacin, kanamycin, or daptomycin. This result is consistent with resveratrol reducing ROS to sublethal levels that are still mutagenic, while the absence of resveratrol allows ROS levels to high enough to kill mutagenized cells. Suppression of antimicrobial lethality and promotion of mutant recovery by resveratrol suggests that the antioxidant may contribute to the emergence of resistance to several antimicrobials, especially if new derivatives and/or formulations of resveratrol markedly increase bioavailability.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0153023
JournalPloS one
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)


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