Comparison of microdilution and disc diffusion methods in assessing the in vitro activity of fluconazole and Melaleuca alternifolia (tea tree) oil against vaginal Candida isolates.
J Chemother. 2002 Oct;14(5):465-72. PMID: 12462426
The in vitro activity of fluconazole and Melaleuca alternifolia (tea tree) oil was evaluated against 99 vaginal Candida strains by the broth microdilution and disc diffusion methods. The microdilution method was performed in accordance with NCCLS-M27A guidelines. An investigational method was used for the disc diffusion test. Fluconazole and tea tree oil minimum inhibitory concentrations (MICs) obtained at 48 h tended to increase 1- to 2-fold or remain the same compared to 24 h readings for most of the isolates tested. C. krusei and C. norvegensis had significantly higher MICs and smaller inhibition zones for fluconazole compared to other species. Tea tree oil MICs were found to be similar, in general, for all Candida spp. tested. The geometric mean MIC of tea tree oil for all isolates was 2.2% (range, 0.25-4%) at 24 h and 3.0% (range, 1-8%) at 48 h. Tea tree oil mean inhibition zone diameter was 24 mm (range, 14-42 mm) at 24 h and 15.8 mm (range, 10-35 mm) at 48 h. In vitro activity of tea tree oil against fluconazole-resistant Candida strains was of particular interest. The isolates had similar tea tree oil MICs and inhibition zone diameters regardless of their fluconazole susceptibility profile. Tea tree oil MIC ranges (inhibition zone diameter ranges) were 2-4% (12-21 mm) and 2% (35 mm) at 48 h for C. krusei and C. norvegensis, respectively. These results suggest that tea tree oil MICs of the fluconazole-resistant isolates are comparable to those of fluconazole-susceptible isolates. This in vitro finding is promising for potential use of topical tea tree oil formulations in the treatment of candidiasis due to fluconazole-resistant strains.