Synergistic effect of oleanolic acid on aminoglycoside antibiotics against acinetobacter baumannii

Bora Shin, Woojun Park

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Citations (Scopus)


Difficulties involved in treating drug-resistant pathogens have created a need for new therapies. In this study, we investigated the possibility of using oleanolic acid (OA), a natural pentacyclic triterpenoid, as a natural adjuvant for antibiotics against Acinetobacter baumannii. High concentrations of OA can kill cells, partly because it generates reactive oxygen species. Measurement of the fractional inhibitory concentration (FIC) for OA and time-kill experiments demonstrated that it only synergizes with aminoglycoside antibiotics (e.g., gentamicin, kanamycin). Other classes of antibiotics (e.g., ampicillin, rifampicin, norfloxacin, chloramphenicol, and tetracycline) have no interactions with OA. Microarray and quantitative reverse transcription-PCR analysis indicated that genes involved in ATP synthesis and cell membrane permeability, the gene encoding glycosyltransferase, peptidoglycan-related genes, phage-related genes, and DNA repair genes were upregulated under OA. OA highly induces the expression of adk, which encodes an adenylate kinase, and des6, which encodes a linoleoyl-CoA desaturase, and deletion of these genes increased FICs; these observations indicate that adk and des6 are involved in the synergism of OA with aminoglycosides. Data obtained using 8-anilino-1-naphthalenesulfonic acid, fluorescenceconjugated gentamicin, and membrane fatty acid analysis indicates that adk and des6 are involved in changes in membrane permeability. Proton-motive force and ATP synthesis tests show that those genes are also involved in energy metabolism. Taken together, our data show that OA boosts aminoglycoside uptake by changing membrane permeability and energy metabolism in A. baumannii.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0137751
JournalPloS one
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 2015 Sept 11

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 Shin, Park. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Biochemistry,Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences
  • General


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