Wenjing Lai1,2, Ian Edwin Cock3,4, Matthew James Cheesman1,5*
1Scchool of Pharmacy and Pharmacology, Gold Coast Campus, Griffith University, Parklands Drive, Southport, Queensland 4222, AUSTRALIA.
2College of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Guangdong Pharmaceutical University, Guangzhou 510006, CHINA.
3School of Environment and Science, Nathan Campus, Griffith University, 170 Kessels Rd, Nathan, Queensland 4111, AUSTRALIA
4Environmental Futures Research Institute, Nathan Campus, Griffith University, 170 Kessels Rd, Nathan, Queensland 4111, AUSTRALIA.
5Menzies Health Institute Queensland, Quality Use of Medicines Network, Queensland 4222, AUSTRALIA.
Published: October 2018
Type: Original Article
Background: The aim of this project was to investigate the efficacy of Astragalus membranaceus (Astragalus) extracts, alone and in combination with conventional antibiotics, against diarrhoea- and dysentery-causing pathogens, as well as against non-pathogenic gastrointestinal bacterial strains. The study sought to validate the chemotherapeutic potential of a traditional Chinese medicinal plant and to identify combinational therapies with increased efficacy compared to either the extracts or conventional antibiotics alone. Methods: Astragalus root powder was extracted with solvents of varying polarity and screened for inhibition of bacterial growth. Susceptibility was assessed by disc diffusion techniques, whilst the minimum inhibitory concentrations (MICs) were quantified by liquid dilution assays. To screen for combinatorial effects, the Astragalus root extracts were combined with a range of conventional antibiotics and tested against each bacterial strain using liquid dilution assays. ΣFIC values were determined and used to determine the class of interaction. Results: Aqueous Astragalus root extracts did not significantly inhibit the growth of the non-pathogenic or beneficial gut microflora bacteria E. cloacae, E. coli or E. faecalis, but possessed mild inhibitory activity against pathogenic A. faecalis, A. hydrophila, B. cereus, S. newport and S. sonnei bacteria. Combinations of the Astragalus extracts and conventional antibiotics generally produced additive or indifferent interactions, indicating that they are safe to use concomitantly without compromising the efficacy of either component. Two cases of antagonistic combinations were detected against B. cereus and S. sonnei. Conclusion: Mild inhibition of 5 pathogenic bacteria occurred with aqueous Astragalus extracts, with a number of additive and antagonistic interactions arising when tested in combination with conventional antibiotics. Astragalus may be used safely in the presence of normal gut bacteria and in most combinations with conventional antibiotics.
Key words: Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Fabaceae, Astragalus, Disc diffusion, Liquid dilution assays, Combinational therapies, Diarrhea, Synergy.