Many studies have evaluated the antimicrobial activity of natural products against various microorganisms, but to our knowledge there have been no studies of the possible use of natural products for their antimicrobial activity against Enterobacter hormaechei. In this study, we investigated vanillic acid (VA) for its antimicrobial activities and its modes of action against carbapenem-resistant E. hormaechei (CREH). The MIC of VA against CREH was determined by the agar diffusion method. The antibacterial action of VA against CREH was elucidated by measuring variations in intracellular ATP concentration, intracellular pH, membrane potential, and cell morphology. Moreover, the efficacy of VA against biofilm formation and VA damage to CREH cells embedded in biofilms were further explored. Our results show that VA was effective against CREH with a MIC of 0.8 mg/mL. VA could rupture the cell membrane integrity of CREH, as measured by a decrease of intracellular ATP, pH, and membrane potential, along with distinctive alternations in cell morphology. In addition, VA exerted a remarkable inhibitory effect on the biofilm formation of CREH and also killed CREH cells within biofilms. These findings show that VA has a potent antibacterial and antibiofilm activity against CREH and, hence, has the potential to be used clinically as a novel candidate agent to treat CREH infections and in the food industry as a food preservative and surface disinfectant.

  • Vanillic acid disrupts the cell membrane of carbapenem-resistant Enterobacter hormaechei.

  • Vanillic acid inhibits carbapenem-resistant Enterobacter hormaechei biofilm formation.

  • Vanillic acid kills carbapenem-resistant Enterobacter hormaechei cells within biofilms.

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