Searching for a potential antibacterial lead structure against bacterial biofilms among new naphthoquinone compounds: C.S. Moreira et al.

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The aims of this study were to design, synthesize and to evaluate 2-hydroxy-3-phenylsulfanylmethyl-[1,4]-naphthoquinones against Gram-negative and Gram-positive bacterial strains, including methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and its biofilm, to probe for potential lead structures.

Methods and Results

Thirty-six new analogues were prepared with good yields using a simple, fast, operational three-procedure reaction and a thiol addition to an o-quinone methide using microwave irradiation. All compounds were tested against Escherichia coli ATCC 25922, Pseudomonas aeruginosa ATCC 27853, Proteus mirabilis ATCC 15290, Serratia marcescens ATCC 14756, Klebsiella pneumoniae ATCC 4352, Enterobacter cloacae ATCC 23355, Enterococcus faecalis ATCC 29212, S. aureus ATCC 25923, Staphylococcus simulans ATCC 27851, Staphylococcus epidermidis ATCC 12228 and a hospital strain of MRSA. Their antibacterial activity was determined using the disc diffusion method, revealing the activity of 19 compounds, mainly against Gram-positive strains. Interestingly, the minimal inhibitory concentration ranges detected for the hit molecules (32–128 μg ml−1) were within Clinical and Laboratory Standards Institute levels. Promisingly, compound 15 affected the MRSA strain, with a reduction of up to 50% in biofilm formation, which is better than vancomycin as biofilm forms a barrier against the antibiotic that avoids its action.


After probing 36 naphthoquinones for a potential antibacterial lead structure against the bacterial biofilm, we found that compound 15 should be explored further and also should be structurally modified in the near future to test against Gram-negative strains.

Significance and Impact of the Study

Since vancomycin is one of the last treatment options currently available, and it is unable to inhibit biofilm, the research of new antimicrobials is urgent. In this context, 2-hydroxy-3-phenylsulfanylmethyl-[1,4]-naphthoquinones proved to be a promising lead structure against MRSA and bacterial biofilm.

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