There is very little information, to date, on the antifungal activity of bergamot oil. In this study, we investigated the in vitro activity of three bergamot oils (natural essence, furocoumarin-free extract and distilled extract) against clinically relevant Candida species. We studied the two derivatives, components of Italian pharmaceutical products, that are supposed to be less toxic than the essential oil. In vitro susceptibility of 40 clinical isolates of Candida spp. (Candida albicans, n=20; Candida glabrata, n=13; Candida krusei, n=4; Candida tropicalis, n=2; Candida parapsilosis, n=1), associated with symptomatic and asymptomatic vulvovaginal candidiasis, was determined using a modification of the NCCLS M27-A2 broth microdilution method. MICs were evaluated for each of the oils alone and combined with sub-inhibitory concentrations of the well-known antiseptic, boric acid. To boric acid, all isolates had MIC values ranging from 0.094% to 0.187% (w/v). At 24 h readings, the MIC(90 )s (for all isolates) were (v/v): 5% for natural essence of bergamot, 2.5% for the furocoumarin-free extract, and 1.25% for the distilled extract. At the 48 h reading, these values increased to >10%, 5% and 2.5%, respectively. At both readings, MIC(90 )s for all oil+boric acid combinations were significantly lower than corresponding values for the oils alone (P <0.05). These data indicate that bergamot oils are active in vitro against Candida spp., suggesting their potential role for the topical treatment of Candida infections.
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