Original Article

The Journal of Antibiotics (2012) 65, 461–467; doi:10.1038/ja.2012.50; published online 4 July 2012

Skin micro-organs from several frog species secrete a repertoire of powerful antimicrobials in culture

Helena Groot1, Carolina Muñoz-Camargo1, Johanna Moscoso1, Gina Riveros1, Vivian Salazar1, Franz Kaston Florez2 and Eduardo Mitrani3

  1. 1Laboratory of Human Genetics, Department of Biological Sciences, Universidad de los Andes, Bogotá, Colombia
  2. 2Fundación Nativa, Bogotá D.C., Colombia
  3. 3Institute of Life Sciences, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Jerusalem, Israel

Correspondence: Professor E Mitrani, Institute of Life Sciences, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Silverman Building, Room 3-524, Givat Ram, Jerusalem 91904, Israel. E-mail: mitrani@vms.huji.ac.il

Received 2 March 2012; Revised 9 May 2012; Accepted 15 May 2012
Advance online publication 4 July 2012



This work is an attempt to take advantage of the rich biodiversity that exists in Colombia in order to start a systematic analysis of antimicrobial substances that have emerged through amphibian evolution. For this purpose we have developed a technique to grow intact frog skin derived micro-organs (SMOs) in vitro in the absence of serum. We show that in SMOs, the skin glands remain intact and continue to secrete into the medium substances with potent antibacterial activity, for several days in culture. Our strategy has been to create a bank of substances secreted by amphibian skin from different species. This bank contains at present around 50 species and is of particular importance as some of the species are in danger of disappearing. We show that some of the species tested displayed very strong antibacterial activity without being toxic to somatic cell lines, even at 10-fold higher concentration.


antibacterial activity; frog secretions; gene expression; skin culture