Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Compounds In Cranberries May Be Antibacterial Agents

Date:
November 14, 2007
Source:
Worcester Polytechnic Institute
Summary:
Cranberry sauce is not the star of the traditional Thanksgiving Day meal, but when it comes to health benefits, the lowly condiment takes center stage. In fact, researchers have found that compounds in cranberries are able to alter E. coli bacteria, which are responsible for a host of human illnesses, in ways that render them unable to initiate an infection.

Researchers have found that compounds in cranberries are able to alter E. coli bacteria.
Credit: iStockphoto/Liza McCorkle

Cranberry sauce is not the star of the traditional Thanksgiving Day meal, but when it comes to health benefits, the lowly condiment takes center stage. In fact, researchers at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) have found that compounds in cranberries are able to alter E. coli bacteria, which are responsible for a host of human illnesses (from kidney infections to gastroenteritis to tooth decay), in ways that render them unable to initiate an infection.

Related Articles


The findings are the result of research by Terri Camesano, associate professor of chemical engineering at WPI, and a team that includes graduate students Yatao Liu and Paola Pinzon-Arango.

For the first time, the research has begun to reveal the biochemical and biophysical mechanisms that appear to underlie a number of beneficial health effects that have long been ascribed to cranberries and cranberry juice--in particular, the ability of cranberry juice to prevent urinary tract infections (UTIs). The mechanism by which cranberry juice prevents such infections has not been clear, though scientists have suspected that compounds in the juice somehow prevent bacteria from adhering to the lining of the urinary tract.

Camesano and her students have used the atomic force microscope and other sophisticated tools to study how a group of tannins (called proanthocyanidins or PACs) found primarily in cranberries interact with bacteria at the molecular level. They have found that the compounds prevent E. coli from adhering to cells in the body (a necessary first step in infections) in several ways:

  • The chemical changes caused by cranberry juice create an energy barrier that keeps the bacteria from getting close to the urinary tract lining.
  • Direct measurements show that the adhesive forces between E. coli and cells of the urinary tract are greatly reduced when at least a 5 percent solution of cranberry juice cocktail is present.
  • Cranberry juice causes tiny tendrils (known as fimbriae) on the surface of the type of E. coli bacteria responsible for the most serious types of UTIs to become compressed, reducing the bacteria's ability to latch onto the lining of the urinary tract.
  • E. coli grown in cranberry juice or the isolated PACs are unable to form biofilms. Biofilms, clusters containing high concentrations of bacteria, are required for infections to develop. Biofilms are the source of infections associated with indwelling catheters and other biomedical devices.
  • When E. coli are cultured over extended periods in solutions containing various concentrations of either cranberry juice or PACs, their cell membranes undergo changes that hinder the bacteria's ability to attach to cells of the urinary tract.

Camesano and her team have also noticed that cranberry juice inhibits the ability of E. coli to produce IAA, a molecule involved in a phenomenon known as quorum sensing. Bacteria produce IAA to let other bacteria know they are there. Quorum sensing enables bacteria to sense that their population is large enough to initiate an infection, or to form a biofilm. Keeping bacteria from producing IAA may be another way that cranberry compounds can hinder their ability to cause serious infections.

Some of Camesano's current work is aimed at assessing the minimum effective dose of cranberry juice (or tannins) and the optimum frequency to ward off infections. In addition, she is working to test whether the urine of patients who have consumed cranberry juice still contains anti-adhesive properties. The clinical portion of the work is being done in collaboration with Amy Howell, associate research scientist at the Philip E. Marucci Center for Blueberry and Cranberry Research at Rutgers University.

Camesano says her work to date indicates that the benefits increase the more juice or cranberry products one consumes. So when it comes to this year's Thanksgiving feast, don't spare the cranberry sauce.

Funded, in part, by the National Science Foundation and the Cranberry Institute and Wisconsin Cranberry Board, the work has been reported in a number of publications and presentations, including FAV Health 2007 (The 2nd Annual Symposium on Human Health Effects of Fruits and Vegetables), the annual meeting of the American Chemical Society in September 2006, and the January/February 2007 issue of the Italian publication AgroFOOD industry hi-tech.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Worcester Polytechnic Institute. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Worcester Polytechnic Institute. "Compounds In Cranberries May Be Antibacterial Agents." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 14 November 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/11/071113132240.htm>.
Worcester Polytechnic Institute. (2007, November 14). Compounds In Cranberries May Be Antibacterial Agents. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 28, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/11/071113132240.htm
Worcester Polytechnic Institute. "Compounds In Cranberries May Be Antibacterial Agents." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/11/071113132240.htm (accessed November 28, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Friday, November 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Research on Bats Could Help Develop Drugs Against Ebola

Research on Bats Could Help Develop Drugs Against Ebola

AFP (Nov. 28, 2014) In Africa's only biosafety level 4 laboratory, scientists have been carrying out experiments on bats to understand how virus like Ebola are being transmitted, and how some of them resist to it. Duration: 01:18 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
New Dinosaur Species Found in Museum Collection

New Dinosaur Species Found in Museum Collection

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Nov. 27, 2014) A British palaeontologist has discovered a new species of dinosaur while studying fossils in a Canadian museum. Pentaceratops aquilonius was related to Triceratops and lived at the end of the Cretaceous Period, around 75 million years ago. Jim Drury has more. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Tryptophan Isn't Making You Sleepy On Thanksgiving

Tryptophan Isn't Making You Sleepy On Thanksgiving

Newsy (Nov. 27, 2014) Tryptophan, a chemical found naturally in turkey meat, gets blamed for sleepiness after Thanksgiving meals. But science points to other culprits. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Classic Hollywood Memorabilia Goes Under the Hammer

Classic Hollywood Memorabilia Goes Under the Hammer

Reuters - Entertainment Video Online (Nov. 26, 2014) The iconic piano from "Casablanca" and the Cowardly Lion suit from "The Wizard of Oz" fetch millions at auction. Sara Hemrajani reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins