Jul 12 2005
Researchers in the U.S. have uncovered the interesting fact that gold-colored bacteria appear to cause more disease than colorless strains.
They are apparently able to do this because they carry antioxidants to protect themselves against immune system attack.
The researchers from the University of California, San Diego, say their findings suggest a potential new way to treat some serious infections.
Victor Nizet and colleagues, say the gold-colored strains of staphylococcus aureus bacteria, get their color from antioxidant compounds called carotenoids, and these strains tend to cause more disease than colorless strains.
They found that the carotenoids helped to defend staph aureus bacteria from the toxic molecules made by immune system cells called neutrophils, and when they removed the carotenoids from the bacteria, they were easier to kill.
Carotenoids also give carrots their color and include the vitamin A precursor beta-carotene.
Nizet says that drugs that interfere with the bacteria's ability to make carotenoids might possibly help in fighting antibiotic-resistant staph infections; these infections are on the rise globally.
The research is published in the Journal of Experimental Medicine.