Antimicrobial, antioxidant, and antitumor activity of epsilon-poly-L-lysine and citral, alone or in combination

  • Ce Shi
  • Xingchen Zhao
  • Zonghui Liu
  • Rizeng Meng
  • Xiangrong Chen
  • Na Guo


Background: Food safety is an important worldwide public health concern, and microbial contamination in foods not only leads to food deterioration and shelf life reduction but also results in economic losses and disease.

Objective: The main aim of the present study was to evaluate the effect of epsilon-poly-L-lysine (ε-PL) and citral combination against Escherichia coli O157:H7 (E. coli O157:H7) strains. The preliminary antioxidant and antitumor activities were also studied.

Design: Synergism is a positive interaction created when two compounds combine and exert an inhibitory effect that is greater than the sum of their individual effects. The synergistic antimicrobial effect of ε-PL and citral was studied using the checkerboard method against E. coli O157:H7. The minimal inhibitory concentration, time-kill, and scanning electron microscope assays were used to determine the antimicrobial activity of ε-PL and citral alone or in combination; 2,2-diphenyl-1-picrylhydrazyl-scavenging assay and western blotting were used in antioxidant activity assays; cell viability assay was carried out to finish preliminary antitumor test.

Results: Minimal inhibitory concentrations of ε-PL and citral resisted to the five E. coli O157:H7 strains were 2–4 µg/mL and 0.5–1 µg/mL, and the fractional inhibitory concentration indices were 0.25–0.375. The results of time-kill assay revealed that a stronger bactericidal effect in a laboratory medium might be exerted in the combination against E. coli O157:H7 than that in a food model. The compounds alone or in combination exhibited a potential 2,2-diphenyl-1-picrylhydrazyl radical–scavenging activity, and the expression of superoxide dismutase 1 and glutathione peroxidase 1 protein increased. The preliminary antitumor activity effect of the combination was better than ε-PL or citral alone.

Conclusions: These findings indicated that the combination of ε-PL and citral could not only be used as a promising naturally sourced food preservative but also be used in the pharmaceutical industry.

Keywords: ε-PL; citral; synergism; antimicrobial; antioxidant; antitumor; food industries

(Published: 15 June 2016)

Citation: Food & Nutrition Research 2016, 60: 31891 -



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How to Cite
Shi C., Zhao X., Liu Z., Meng R., Chen X., & Guo N. (2016). Antimicrobial, antioxidant, and antitumor activity of epsilon-poly-L-lysine and citral, alone or in combination. Food & Nutrition Research, 60.
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