Synergistic interactions of phytochemicals with antimicrobial agents: Potential strategy to counteract drug resistance.


Department of Pharmacy, University of Malakand, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), 18000, Pakistan. Electronic address: [Email]


The emergence of multidrug resistant (MDR) pathogens is a global threat and has created problems in providing adequate treatment of many infectious diseases. Although the conventional antimicrobial agents are quite effective against several pathogens, yet there is a need for more effective antimicrobial agents against MDR pathogens. Herbal drugs and phytochemicals have been used for their effective antimicrobial activity from ancient times and there is an increasing trend for development of plant based natural products for the prevention and treatment of pathogenic diseases. One of the strategies for effective resistance modification is the use of antimicrobial agent-phytochemical combinations that will neutralize the resistance mechanism, enabling the drug to still be effective against resistant microbes. These phytochemicals can work by several strategies, such as inhibition of target modifying and drug degrading enzymes or as efflux pumps inhibitors. A plethora of herbal extracts, essential oils and isolated pure compounds have been reported to act synergistically with existing antibiotics, antifungals and chemotherapeutics and augment the activity of these drugs. Considerable increases in the susceptibility pattern of several microbes towards the natural antimicrobials and their combinations were observed as indicated by significant decline in minimum inhibitory concentrations. This review paper summarizes the current developments regarding synergistic interactions of plant extracts and isolated pure compounds in combination with existing antibacterial, antifungal agents and chemotherapeutics. The effect of these agents on the susceptibility patterns of these pathogens and possible mechanisms of action are described in detail. In conclusion, many phytochemicals in combination with existing drugs were found to act as resistance modifying agents and proper combinations may rescue the efficacy of important lifesaving antimicrobial agents.


Antimicrobial agents,Efflux pumps,Multidrug resistance,Natural products,Phytochemicals,Synergy,

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