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Assessment of antimicrobial activity of melittin encapsulated in bicontinuous microemulsions prepared using renewable oils

Publication Type
Journal Name
Journal of Surfactants and Detergents
Publication Date
Page Numbers
387 to 399

The objective of this study is to demonstrate that melittin, a well-studied antimicrobial peptide (AMP), can be solubilized in an active form in bicontinuous microemulsions (BMEs) that employ biocompatible oils. The systems investigated consisted of Winsor-III and -IV BME phases composed of Water/Aerosol-OT (AOT)/Polysorbate 85/isopropyl myristate and a Winsor-IV BME employing Polysorbate 80 and limonene. We found that melittin resided in an α-helix-rich configuration and was in an apolar environment for the AOT/Polysorbate 85 Winsor-III system, suggesting that melittin interacted with the surfactant monolayer and was in an active conformation. An apolar environment was also detected for melittin in the two Winsor-IV systems, but to a lesser extent than the Winsor-III system. Small-angle X-ray scattering analysis indicated that melittin at a concentration of 1.0 g/Laq in the aqueous subphase of the Winsor-IV systems led to the greatest impact on the BME structure (e.g., decrease of quasi-periodic repeat distance and correlation length and induction of interfacial fluidity). The antimicrobial activity of the Polysorbate 80 Winsor-IV system was evaluated against several bacteria prominent in chronic wounds and surgical site infections (SSIs). Melittin-free BMEs inhibited the growth of all tested bacteria due to its oil, limonene, while the inclusion of 1.0 g/Laq of melittin in the BMEs enhanced the activity against several bacteria. A further increase of melittin concentration in the BMEs had no further enhancement. These results demonstrate the potential utility of BMEs as a delivery platform for AMPs and other hydrophilic and lipophilic drugs to inhibit antibiotic-resistant microorganisms in chronic wounds and SSIs.