The antimicrobial effects of propolis and bee venom on Spirochaeta cytophaga cultures as a model for Lyme disease treatment
Ruby Ehrlich, Hanna Robertson
Lyme disease, caused by tick borne infections of the bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi, is typically treated with antibiotics. However, because not all patients respond to this treatment and excessive antibiotic use can lead to resistance making future infections difficult to treat, alternative treatments are needed. Bee venom and propolis are bee secretions that both display antimicrobial properties and therefore have potential to treat bacterial infections. In order to safely determine the antimicrobial effects of propolis and bee venom on harmful bacteria without the risks of exposure to the pathogenic bacteria, a bacteria species with a homologous outer membrane (Spirochaeta cytophaga) to the Lyme disease causing bacteria was used as a model in this research. To test the antimicrobial effects of propolis and bee venom, S. cytophaga cultures, treated with varying treatment types, were quantified daily using optical density spectrophotometry to approximate the time interval required for treatment to become effective. The efficacy of treatment was determined through observation of a statistically significant decrease in the optical density of cultures. Dark field microscopy was subsequently utilized to confirm that the outer membrane was the structure acted upon by the experimental treatments. Finally, the minimal inhibitory concentration for bee venom, propolis, and both combined was calculated using a microplate reader. The results indicate that the combined propolis and bee venom treatment was significantly more effective than other treatments. This combined treatment had a minimal inhibitory concentration of 2.5% propolis and 83.75 micrograms per milliliter bee venom. Additionally, both propolis and bee venom acted on the outer membrane of S. cytophaga which suggests that the effects of these treatments are potentially similar on the pathogenic bacteria.