Campylobacter jejuni is one of the most prevalent causes of bacterial gastroenteritis worldwide, and it is largely associated with consumption of contaminated poultry. Current Campylobacter control measures at the poultry production level remain insufficient, and hence there is the need for alternative control strategies. We evaluated the potential of the monoterpene (-)-α-pinene for control of C. jejuni in poultry. The antibacterial and resistance-modulatory activities of (-)-α-pinene were also determined against 57 C. jejuni strains. In addition, the anti-quorum-sensing activity of (-)-α-pinene against C. jejuni NCTC 11168 was determined for three subinhibitory concentrations (125, 62.5, 31.25 mg/L) over three incubation times using an autoinducer-2 bioassay based on Vibrio harveyi BB170 bioluminescence measurements. The effects of a subinhibitory concentration of (-)-α-pinene (250 mg/L) on survival of C. jejuni, and in combination with enrofloxacin on fluoroquinolone resistance development in C. jejuni, were determined in a broiler chicken model, by addition of (-)-α-pinene to the broiler water supply. The reduction of C. jejuni numbers by (-)-α-pinene was further determined in broiler chickens that were colonized with either fluoroquinolone-susceptible or -resistant strains, by direct gavage treatment. We observed weak in vitro antimicrobial activity for (-)-α-pinene alone (MIC >500 mg/L), but strong potentiating effects on antibiotics erythromycin and ciprofloxacin against different Campylobacter strains (>512 fold change). After 24 h of treatment of C. jejuni with (-)-α-pinene, its quorum-sensing signaling was reduced by >80% compared to the untreated control. When given in the drinking water, (-)-α-pinene did not show any significant inhibitory effects on the level of C. jejuni in the colonized chickens, and did not reduce fluoroquinolone resistance development in combination with enrofloxacin. Conversely, when (-)-α-pinene was administered by direct gavage, it significantly reduced the number of fluoroquinolone susceptible C. jejuni in the colonized broiler chickens. These results demonstrate that (-)-α-pinene modulates quorum-sensing in Campylobacter, potentiates antibiotics against different Campylobacter strains, and reduces Campylobacter colonization in broiler chickens.
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