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Plant Compounds Enhance the Assay Sensitivity for Detection of Active Bacillus cereus Toxin

Reuven Rasooly, Bradley Hernlem, Xiaohua He, Mendel Friedman
Toxins 2015 v.7 no.3 pp. 835-845
Bacillus cereus, almonds, antibacterial properties, bacterial contamination, bacterial toxins, carvacrol, cell culture, cell membranes, culture media, dose response, enterotoxins, epicatechin, food contamination, food pathogens, green fluorescent protein, green tea, growth retardation, infant formulas, kidney cells, monkeys, plant extracts, rice milk, soymilk, transgenic animals
Bacillus cereus is an important food pathogen, producing emetic and diarrheal syndromes, the latter mediated by enterotoxins. The ability to sensitively trace and identify this active toxin is important for food safety. This study evaluated a nonradioactive, sensitive, in vitro cell-based assay, based on B. cereus toxin inhibition of green fluorescent protein (GFP) synthesis in transduced monkey kidney Vero cells, combined with plant extracts or plant compounds that reduce viable count of B. cereus in food. The assay exhibited a dose dependent GFP inhibition response with ~25% inhibition at 50 ng/mL toxin evaluated in culture media or soy milk, rice milk or infant formula, products associated with food poisonings outbreak. The plant extracts of green tea or bitter almond and the plant compounds epicatechin or carvacrol were found to amplify the assay response to ~90% inhibition at the 50 ng/mL toxin concentration greatly increasing the sensitivity of this assay. Additional studies showed that the test formulations also inhibited the growth of the B. cereus bacteria, likely through cell membrane disruption. The results suggest that the improved highly sensitive assay for the toxin and the rapid inactivation of the pathogen producing the toxin have the potential to enhance food safety.