Antimicrobial activity and effects of resveratrol on human pathogenic bacteria


Resveratrol (3,4′,5-trihydroxistilbene) is a phytoalexin commonly found in food and drinks, which is thought to possess antimicrobial activity. These effects together with its well known antioxidant properties are beneficial for the prevention of some diseases, e.g. cancer. In this study we have verified that resveratrol has antibacterial activity against all tested Gram-positive bacteria using both the disk diffusion and broth microdilution methods. Time kill assays of this compound against Gram-positive bacteria showed that its effects on the growth of bacterial cells were due to bacteriostatic action. The addition of resveratrol has allowed the identification of changes in cell morphology and DNA contents, which have been assessed through microscopic analysis and flow cytometry; this suggests that the cell cycle is affected by resveratrol. This study indicates that this compound may have potential as a natural antibacterial agent for both food preservation and medicinal use.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2


  1. Baur JA, Sinclair DA (2006) Therapeutic potential of resveratrol: the in vivo evidence. Nat Rev Drug Discov 5:493–506. doi:10.1038/nrd2060

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  2. Chan MMY (2002) Antimicrobial effect of resveratrol on dermatophytes and bacterial pathogens of the skin. Biochem Pharmacol 63:99–104. doi:10.1016/S0006-2952(01)00886-3

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  3. Docherty JJ, Fu MM, Tsai M (2001) Resveratrol selectively inhibits Neisseria gonorrhoeae and Neisseria meningitidis. J Antimicrob Chemother 47:243–244

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  4. Docherty JJ, McEwen HA, Sweet TJ, Bailey E, Booth TD (2007) Resveratrol inhibition of Propionibacterium acnes. J Antimicrob Chemother 59:1182–1184. doi:10.1093/jac/dkm099

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  5. Eliopoulos GM (2005) Antimicrobial combinations. In: Lorian V (ed) Antibiotics in laboratory medicine. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, New York, pp 365–440

    Google Scholar 

  6. Jang M, Cai L, Udeani GO, Slowing KV, Thomas CF, Beecher CW, Fong HH, Farnsworth NR, Kinghorn AD, Mehta RG, Moon RC, Pezzuto JM (1997) Cancer chemopreventive activity of resveratrol, a natural product derived from grapes. Science 275:218–220. doi:10.1126/science.275.5297.218

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  7. Jeandet P, Douillt-Breuil AC, Bessis R, Debord S, Sbaghi M, Adrian M (2002) Phytoalexins from the Vitaceae: biosynthesis, phytoalexin gene expression in transgenic plants, antifungal activity, and metabolism. J Agric Food Chem 50:2731–2741. doi:10.1021/jf011429s

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  8. Jung HJ, Hwang IA, Sung WS, Kang H, Kang BS, Seu YB, Lee DG (2005) Fungicidal effect of resveratrol on human infectious fungi. Arch Pharm Res 28:557–560

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  9. Mahady G (2006) Resveratrol as an antibacterial agent. In: Aggarwal B, Shishodia S (eds) Resveratrol in health and disease. CRC Press, Boca Raton, pp 465–474

    Google Scholar 

  10. Mahady GB, Pendland SL (2000) Resveratrol inhibits the growth of Helicobacter pylori in vitro. Am J Gastroenterol 95:1849. doi:10.1111/j.1572-0241.2000.02146.x

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  11. National Committee for Clinical Laboratory Standards (2003a) Performance standards for antimicrobial disk susceptibility tests -eighth edition: approved standard M2-A8. NCCLS, Wayne PA, USA

    Google Scholar 

  12. National Committee for Clinical Laboratory Standards (2003b) Methods for dilution antimicrobial susceptibility tests for bacteria that grow aerobically-sixth edition: approved standard M7-A6. NCCLS, Wayne PA, USA

    Google Scholar 

  13. Pankey GA, Sabath LD (2004) Clinical relevance of bacteriostatic versus bactericidal mechanisms of action in the treatment of Gram-positive bacterial infections. Clin Infect Dis 38:864–870. doi:10.1086/381972

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  14. Sadruddin S, Arora R (2009) Resveratrol: biologic and therapeutic implications. J Cardiometab Syndr 4:102–106. doi:10.1111/j.1559-4572.2008.00039.x

    Article  Google Scholar 

  15. Shan B, Cai YZ, Brooks JD, Corke H (2008) Antibacterial properties of Polygonum cuspidatum roots and their major bioactive constituents. Food Chem 109:530–537. doi:10.1055/s-2007-993759

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  16. Si W, Gong J, Tsao R, Kalab M, Yang R, Yin Y (2006) Bioassay-guided purification and identification of antimicrobial components in Chinese green tea extract. J Chromatogr A 1125:204–210. doi:10.1016/j.chroma.2006.05.061

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  17. Smith PJ, Blunt N, Wiltshire M, Hoy T, Teesdale-Spittle P, Craven MR, Watson JV, Amos WB, Errington RJ, Patterson LH (2000) Characteristics of a novel deep red/infrared fluorescent cell-permeant DNA probe, DRAQ5, in intact human cells analyzed by flow cytometry, confocal and multiphoton microscopy. Cytometry 40:280–291. doi:10.1002/1097-0320(20000801)40:4<280:AID-CYTO4>3.0.CO;2-7

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  18. Wang WB, Lai HC, Hsueh PR, Chiou RYY, Lin SB, Liaw SJ (2006) Inhibition of swarming and virulence factor expression in Proteus mirabilis by resveratrol. J Med Microbiol 55:1313–1321. doi:10.1099/jmm.0.46661-0

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

Download references


This work was supported by the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT) (SFRH/BD/28168/2006). We are grateful to Eng A. Gomes, Dr. F. Silva and Prof. O. Lourenço for helpful advice and assistance in the performance of SEM and flow cytometry assays. We thank Biostatus Limited, Leicestershire, UK, for supplying DRAQ5.

Author information



Corresponding author

Correspondence to Fernanda Domingues.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Paulo, L., Ferreira, S., Gallardo, E. et al. Antimicrobial activity and effects of resveratrol on human pathogenic bacteria. World J Microbiol Biotechnol 26, 1533–1538 (2010).

Download citation


  • Resveratrol
  • Antimicrobial activity
  • Bacteriostatic effect
  • Gram-positive bacteria
  • Bacterial cell cycle