Factors affecting the production and measurement of hydrogen peroxide in honey samples

Microbiology Society
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Access Microbiology, 2021
Issue Date:
Full metadata record
Many Australian native honeys possess significant antimicrobial properties due to the production of hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) by glucose oxidase, an enzyme derived from the honeybee. The level of H2O2 produced in different honey samples is highly variable, and factors governing its production and stability are not well understood. In this study, highly active Australian honeys that had been stored for >10 years lost up to 54 % of their antibacterial activity, although almost all retained sufficient activity to be considered potentially therapeutically useful. We used a simple colourimetric assay to quantify H2O2 production. Although we found a significant correlation between H2O2 production and antibacterial activity across diverse honey samples, variation in H2O2 only explained 47 % of the variation observed in activity, limiting the assay as a screening tool and highlighting the complexity of the relationship between H2O2 and the killing power of honey. To further examine this, we tested whether H2O2 detection in honey was being inhibited by pigmented compounds and if H2O2 might be directly degraded in some honey samples. We found no correlation between H2O2 detection and honey colour. Some honey samples rapidly lost endogenous and spiked H2O2, suggesting that components in honey, such as catalase or antioxidant polyphenols, may degrade or quench H2O2. Despite this rapid loss of H2O2, these honeys had significant peroxide-based antibacterial activity, indicating a complex relationship between H2O2 and other honey components that may act synergistically to augment activity.
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