Two Major Medicinal Honeys Have Different Mechanisms…

Two Major Medicinal Honeys Have Different Mechanisms of Bactericidal Activity

Paulus H. S. Kwakman1, Anje A. te Velde2, Leonie de Boer1, Christina M. J. E. Vandenbroucke-Grauls1,3, Sebastian A. J. Zaat1*

1 Department of Medical Microbiology, Center for Infection and Immunity Amsterdam (CINIMA), Academic Medical Center, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, 2Tytgat Institute for Liver and Intestinal Research, Academic Medical Center, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, 3Department of Medical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases, VU Medical Center, Amsterdam, The Netherlands


Honey is increasingly valued for its antibacterial activity, but knowledge regarding the mechanism of action is still incomplete. We assessed the bactericidal activity and mechanism of action of RevamilH source (RS) honey and manuka honey, the sources of two major medical-grade honeys. RS honey killed Bacillus subtilis, Escherichia coli and Pseudomonas aeruginosa within 2 hours, whereas manuka honey had such rapid activity only against B. subtilis. After 24 hours of incubation, both honeys killed all tested bacteria, including methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, but manuka honey retained activity up to higher dilutions than RS honey. Bee defensin-1 and H2O2 were the major factors involved in rapid bactericidal activity of RS honey. These factors were absent in manuka honey, but this honey contained 44-fold higher concentrations of methylglyoxal than RS honey. Methylglyoxal was a major bactericidal factor in manuka honey, but after neutralization of this compound manuka honey retained bactericidal activity due to several unknown factors. RS and manuka honey have highly distinct compositions of bactericidal factors, resulting in large differences in bactericidal activity.

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two major medicinal honeys have different mechanism…