Australian scientists have found that regular fish oil has the potential to destroy the ability of super bacteria to become resistant to antibiotics.
The research team, led by Flinders University, found that the antimicrobial effects of fish oil fatty acids could prove to be a simple and safe dietary supplement that people can take with antibiotics to make their fight against infection more effective. The results are published in the international journal mBio.
“It is important that our studies indicate that an important mechanism of antibiotic resistance in cells can be negatively influenced by the intake of omega-3 fatty acids in food,” said the microbiologist Dr. Bart Eijkelkamp from the Bacterial Host Adaptation Research Laboratory at Flinders University.
“In the experiments and supplementary supercomputer models, we found that these fatty acids in fish oil make the bacteria more susceptible to various common antibiotics.”
Australian National University (ANU) co-author Megan O’Mara added, “This rift in the armor of harmful bacteria is an important step forward in combating the rise in superbugs that develop multi-resistance to antibiotics.”
Research is crucial in the area of infectious diseases caused by bacteria such as Acinetobacter baumannii, a leading hospital-acquired pathogen with unprecedented antibiotic resistance around the world.
“With the advent of superbacteria, we have now been able to show that this greedy bacterium cannot differentiate between ‘good and bad’ host fatty acids and consumes all of these during infection,” said co-author Dr. Felise Adams from Flinders University.
“Our research has shown that fish oil fatty acids become part of the bacterial membrane, making the invading bacterial membrane more permeable and more susceptible to the antibiotics that attack it.
“We know that Acinetobacter baumannii is one of the most notorious multi-drug resistant pathogens in the world, but little is known about how it reacts to host-mediated stress.”
Professor Anton Peleg, director of the Infectious Diseases Department at Alfred Hospital in Melbourne, stated, “These studies provide new insight into the potential benefits of omega-3 supplements in bacterial infections, particularly during antibiotic treatment.”
The two research publications include staff from ANU, Macquarie University, University of Adelaide, Monash University, University of Newcastle, and the SA Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI).
Caption: Dr. Bart Eijkelkamp, Dr. Felice Adams and Maoge Zang at the Bacterial Host Adaptation Research Laboratory (Flinders University).