Open Access Research article

Termite usage associated with antibiotic therapy: enhancement of aminoglycoside antibiotic activity by natural products of Nasutitermes corniger (Motschulsky 1855)

Henrique DM Coutinho1*, Alexandre Vasconcellos2, Micheline A Lima3, Geraldo G Almeida-Filho4 and Rômulo RN Alves5

Author Affiliations

1 Universidade Regional do Cariri, Laboratório de Microbiologia e Biologia Molecular, Crato (CE), 63105-000, Brazil

2 Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Norte, Departamento de Botânica, Ecologia e Zoologia, Natal (RN), 59072-900, Brazil

3 Universidade Federal de Campina Grande, Unidade Acadêmica de Saúde, Cuité (PB) Brazil

4 Universidade Federal da Paraíba - UFPB; Departamento de Biologia Molecular - DBM, 58051-900, Brazil

5 Departamento de Biologia, Universidade Estadual da Paraíba, Campina Grande, Paraíba (PB), 58109-753, Brazil

For all author emails, please log on.

BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2009, 9:35  doi:10.1186/1472-6882-9-35

Published: 17 September 2009



Several species from Insecta are used as remedies. Among these species, the termite Nasutitermes corniger is commonly used in traditional medicine in Northeast Brazil. The present work tests the modifying antibiotic activity of Nasutitermes corniger, a termite used in folk medicine in Northeastern region of Brazil.


Chlorpromazine and decocts of N. corniger were collected from two different plant species used in the traditional medicine were tested for their antimicrobial activity against strains of Escherichia coli resistant to aminoglycosides. The growth of two bacterial strains of E. coli was tested using decocts and chlorpromazine alone or associeted with aminogycosides.


The MIC and MBC values were ≥1024 μg/ml for both strains of E. coli assayed. A significant synergism was observed between both decocts and chlorpromazine when assyed with neomycin. This synergism with neomycin indicates the involvement of an efflux system in the resistance to this aminoglycoside.


Therefore it is suggested that natural products from N. corniger could be used as a source of zoo-derived natural products with modifying antibiotic activity to aminoglycosides, being a new weapon against the bacterial resistance to antibiotics.