Citral, a monoterpenoid aldehyde interacts synergistically with norfloxacin against methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus

Gupta P, Patel DK, Gupta VK, Pal A, Tandon S, Darokar MP
Phytomedicine, 2017


Staphylococcus aureus (SA), is a major human pathogen causing wide range of clinical infections, which has been further complicated by drug resistance like methicillin resistant S. aureus (MRSA), vancomycin intermediate S. aureus (VISA)/vancomycin resistant S. aureus (VRSA), etc. The present study was aimed at determining anti-staphylococcal potential of citral against drug resistant clinical isolates alone and in combination with antibiotics.


To assess the potential of citral in combination with norfloxacin in treating drug resistant infections of SA.


In the present study, synergistic interaction of citral and norfloxacin against drug resistant SA strains was evaluated. Further the efficacy and possible mechanism of action of the combination was also evaluated using in vitro and in vivo assays.


The anti-staphylococcal activity of each of the monoterpene and the antibiotic was determined in terms of MIC and the effective concentration of both compounds in combination was obtained by checkerboard assay. In vivo efficacy and oral acute toxicity was evaluated in Swiss albino mice model. To understand the mechanism of action, time-kill curve, bacteriolysis, leakage, membrane depolarization, salt tolerance and ethidium bromide efflux assays were performed.


Citral was found effective against clinical isolates of SA with MIC values ranging from 75 to 150 µg ml-1 exhibiting bacteriostatic activity. Citral interacted synergistically, reducing MIC of norfloxacin up to 32-folds with FICI ≤ 0.50. Citral did not affect cell wall, but could damage cell membrane, inhibit efflux pump and affect the membrane potential. Citral could reduce the staphylococcal load of spleen and liver tissues in a dose-dependent manner which was further reduced when used in combination with norfloxacin. Citral did not exhibit any mortality or morbidity up to 500 mg kg-1 body weight and found to prolong the post-antibiotic effect of norfloxacin.


Based on these observations, citral could be a lead candidate phytomolecule for further developing it into an anti-staphylococcal agent. The observations of combination study will help in reducing the burden of antibiotics leading to delayed resistance development.


Gupta P, Patel DK, Gupta VK et al. Citral, a monoterpenoid aldehyde interacts synergistically with norfloxacin against methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus. Phytomedicine. 2017 Oct 15;34:85-96. doi: 10.1016/j.phymed.2017.08.016. Epub 2017 Aug 17.

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