Date of Award

5-2009

Level of Access

Campus-Only Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Food Science and Human Nutrition

Advisor

Vivian C. H. Wu

Second Committee Member

Alfred A. Bushway

Third Committee Member

Adrienne A. White

Abstract

As bacteria become increasingly antibiotic-resistant, the need for safe and effective treatment therapies has become of critical importance. Fruits and vegetables have long been hailed as healthy, nutritious food choices full of vitamins, minerals, and compounds associated with many health benefits and have gained disease fighting reputations. Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) is the bacteria responsible for the majority of duodenal and gastric ulcers and is the most prevalent bacteria infecting the worldwide human population today. H. pylori infections are now known to cause not only ulcers, but can also lead to gastritis, cardiovascular diseases, and gastric cancer. The conventional treatment for infection includes antibiotics, but more and more strains of H. pylori are developing antibiotic-resistant characteristics. Berries are known as a "superfood" and provide high amounts of vitamins and antioxidants. Researchers have also suggested these small powerhouses contain antimicrobial potential and may be able to kill bacteria and ward off diseases. Wild blueberries are native to Maine and are known to be good sources of phenolics, compounds found in fruits and vegetables that are thought to be associated with the disease fighting abilities of fruits and vegetables. This study looked at the direct relationship between wild blueberry phenolics and H. pylori bacteria. Two phenolic concentrate powders made from wild blueberries were examined for phenolic content and ability to inhibit the growth of H. pylori using agar diffusion assays, determining minimum inhibitory concentrations (MIC) for both powders and determining the powder's ability to inhibit viable cells of H. pylori. Both berry powders were higher in total phenolics than cranberries, which were previously studied and noted to exhibit antimicrobial activity against human pathogens, including H. pylori. The wild blueberry phenolic powders also significantly (p<0.05) inhibited the growth of H. pylori in the agar diffusion assay. The Blue Phenolic powder extract significantly (p<0.05) reduced H. pylori growth by an average 2.5 log CFU/ml at 50% concentration (vol/vol) and 1.5 log CFU/ml at 25% concentration (vol/vol). The Wild Blueberry powder extract significantly (p<0.05) reduced H. pylori growth by an average 2.8 log CFU/ml at 50% concentration (vol/vol) and 1.8 log CFU/ml at the 25% concentration (vol/vol). The results of this study indicate wild blueberries may contain antimicrobial activity potential against H. pylori and have the potential to be used as a natural treatment option to H. pylori infections. Early diagnosis of an H. pylori infection and early introduction of wild blueberry phenolics may be able to eradicate H. pylori and prevent infection. Further studies may indicate the use for wild blueberries in conjunction with or in replacement of current antibiotic treatment regimens.

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