Lyme disease is the most common vector borne-disease in the US. While the majority of the Lyme disease patients can be cured with the standard 2-4 week antibiotic treatment, about 10-20% of patients continue to suffer from persisting symptoms. While the cause of this condition is unclear, persistent infection was proposed as one possibility. It has recently been shown that B. burgdorferi develops dormant persisters in stationary phase cultures that are not killed by the current Lyme antibiotics, and there is interest to identify novel drug candidates that more effectively kill such forms. We previously evaluated 34 essential oils and identified some highly active candidates with excellent activity against biofilm and stationary phase B. burgdorferi. Here we screened another 35 essential oils and found 10 essential oils (garlic, allspice, cumin, palmarosa, myrrh, hedycheim, amyris, thyme white, litsea cubeba, lemon eucalyptus) and the active compoent of cinnamon bark cinnamaldehyde (CA) at a low concentration of 0.1% to have high activity against stationary phase B. burgdorferi. At a very low 0.05% concentration, garlic, allspice, palmarosa and CA still exhibited strong activity against the stationary phase B. burgdorferi. CA also showed strong activity against replicating B. burgdorferi, with a MIC of 0.02% (equivalent to 0.2 μg/mL). In subculture studies, the top 5 hits garlic, allspice, myrrh, hedycheim, and litsea cubeba completely eradicated all B. burgdorferi stationary phase cells at 0.1%, while palmarosa, lemon eucalyptus, amyris, cumin, and thyme white failed to do so as shown by visible spirochetal growth after 21-day subculture. At 0.05% concentration, only garlic essential oil and CA sterilized the B. burgdorferi stationary phase culture as shown by no regrowth during subculture, while allspice, myrrh, hedycheim and litsea cubeba all had visible spirochetes growing during subculture. Future studies are needed to determine if these highly active essential oils could eradicate persistent B. burgdorferi infection in vivo.
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