3-Phenyllactic Acid and Polyphenols Are Substances Enhancing the Antibacterial Effect of Methylglyoxal in Manuka Honey: Foods

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Manuka honey is known for its unique antibacterial activity, which is due to methylglyoxal (MGO). After establishing a suitable assay for measuring the bacteriostatic effect in a liquid culture with a time dependent and continuous measurement of the optical density, we were able to show that honey differs in its growth retardingeffect on Bacillus subtilis despite the same content of MGO, indicating the presence of potentially synergistic compounds. In model studies using artificial honey with varying amounts of MGO and 3-phenyllactic acid (3-PLA), it was shown that 3-PLA in concentrations above 500 mg/kg enhances the bacteriostatic effect of the model honeys containing 250 mg/kg MGO or more. It has been shown that the effect correlates with the contents of 3-PLA and polyphenols in commercial manuka honey samples. Additionally, yet unknown substances further enhance the antibacterial effect of MGO in manuka honey. The results contribute to the understanding of the antibacterial effect of MGO in honey.


Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 4 Mar 2023
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External IDs

PubMed 36900615
Scopus 85149783396
Mendeley 3d5a8e7a-6010-3940-b966-70950ae5a048



  • manuka honey, Bacillus subtilis, methylglyoxal, 3-phenyllactic acid, synergistic effects