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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service


item Renault, Samantha
item De Lucca Ii, Anthony
item Boue, Stephen
item Bland, John
item Vigo, Craig
item Selitrennikoff, Claude

Submitted to: Medical Mycology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 12/20/2003
Publication Date: 12/30/2003
Citation: Renault, S., De Lucca II, A.J., Boue, S.M., Bland, J.M., Vigo, C.B., Selitrennikoff, C. 2003. Cay-1, a novel antifungal compound from cayenne pepper. Medical Mycology. 41(1):75-82.

Interpretive Summary: Cayenne pepper contains a compound, called CAY-1, that kills 16 different fungi in laboratory tests. CAY-1 enhanced the antifungal properties of a currently used antifungal drug, amphotericin B. CAY-1 is not toxic to 55 mammalian cell lines at concentrations higher than that level needed to kill fungi. Importantly, CAY-1 apparently kills the fungi by causing holes to form in the cell wall. CAY-1 is a potent fungicide and may be useful as an agricultural or topical fungicide. Other potential uses include use a preservative in food and feed. Because other compounds of its group kill molluscs or mosquito larvae, CAY-1 could be useful in combating the zebra mussel and/or as a mosquito larvicide.

Technical Abstract: CAY-1, a novel saponin from Capsicum frutescens (commercially known as cayenne pepper) was investigated to determine its in vitro antifungal activity, mechanism of action, and mammalian cell cytotoxicity. CAY-1 was active against 16 different fungal strains, including Candida spp. and Aspergillus fumigatus [minimum inhibitory concentrations (MIC) ranging from 4 to 16 mg ml-1] and was especially active against Cryptococcus neoformans (90% inhibition at 1 mg ml-1). Synergistic activity was also observed between CAY-1 and amphotericin B against Candida albicans and A. fumigatus. No significant cytotoxicity was demonstrated when CAY-1 was tested against 55 mammalian cell lines at up to 100 mg ml-1. Importantly, CAY-1 appears to act by disrupting the membrane integrity of fungal cells.

Last Modified: 07/27/2017
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