Chicory extracts and sesquiterpene lactones show potent activity against bacterial and fungal pathogens

Suvi T. Häkkinen, Marina Soković, Liisa Nohynek, Ana Ćirić, Marija Ivanov, Dejan Stojković, Irina Tsitko, Melanie Matos, João P. Baixinho, Viktoriya Ivasiv, Naiara Fernández, Claudia Nunes Dos Santos, Kirsi Marja Oksman-Caldentey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)


Chicory (Cichorium intybus L.) is an important industrial crop cultivated mainly to extract the dietary fiber inulin. However, chicory also contains bioactive compounds such as sesquiterpene lactones and certain polyphenols, which are currently discarded as waste. Plants are an important source of active pharmaceutical ingredients, including novel antimicrobials that are urgently needed due to the global spread of drug-resistant bacteria and fungi. Here, we tested different extracts of chicory for a range of bioactivities, including antimicrobial, antifungal and cytotoxicity assays. Antibacterial and antifungal activities were generally more potent in ethyl acetate extracts compared to water extracts, whereas supercritical fluid extracts showed the broadest range of bioactivities in our assays. Remarkably, the chicory supercritical fluid extract and a purified fraction thereof inhibited both methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and ampicillin-resistant Pseudomonas aeruginosa IBRS P001. Chicory extracts also showed higher antibiofilm activity against the yeast Candida albicans than standard sesquiterpene lactone compounds. The cytotoxicity of the extracts was generally low. Our results may thus lead to the development of novel antibacterial and antifungal preparations that are both effective and safe for human use.

Original languageEnglish
Article number941
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2021


  • Antifungal
  • Antimicrobial
  • Bioactivity
  • Biofilm
  • Chicory
  • Cytotoxicity


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