Mono-Rhamnolipid Biosurfactants Synthesized by Pseudomonas aeruginosa Detrimentally Affect Colorectal Cancer Cells

Matthew S Twigg, Simms A Adu, Suguru Sugiyama, Roger Marchant, Ibrahim M Banat

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)
39 Downloads (Pure)


Over the past 15 years, glycolipid-type biosurfactant compounds have been postulated as novel, naturally synthesized anticancer agents. This study utilized a recombinant strain of Pseudomonas aeruginosa to biosynthesize a preparation of mono-rhamnolipids that were purified via both liquid and solid-phase extraction, characterized by HPLC-MS, and utilized to treat two colorectal cancer cell lines (HCT-116 and Caco2) and a healthy colonic epithelial cell line CCD-841-CoN. Additionally, the anticancer activity of these mono-rhamnolipids was compared to an alternative naturally derived anticancer agent, Piceatannol. XTT cell viability assays showed that treatment with mono-rhamnolipid significantly reduced the viability of both colorectal cancer cell lines whilst having little effect on the healthy colonic epithelial cell line. At the concentrations tested mono-rhamnolipids were also shown to be more cytotoxic to the colorectal cancer cells than Piceatannol. Staining of mono-rhamnolipid-treated cells with propidium iodine and acridine orange appeared to show that these compounds induced necrosis in both colorectal cancer cell lines. These data provide an early in vitro proof-of-principle for utilizing these compounds either as active pharmaceutical ingredient for the treatment of colorectal cancer or incorporations into nutraceutical formulations to potentially prevent gastrointestinal tract cancer.
Original languageEnglish
Article number2799
Pages (from-to)1-16
Number of pages16
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 14 Dec 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was externally funded by Invest Northern Ireland, proof-of-concept grant number 826 and internally by an Ulster University Vice Chancellors Research Scholarship.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 by the authors.


  • Biosurfactant
  • Mono-rhamnolipid
  • Anti-cancer
  • Colorectal Cancer
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa
  • colorectal cancer
  • biosurfactant
  • mono-rhamnolipid
  • anticancer


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