Scientists have identified antimicrobial proteins from pumpkin rinds that can inhibit the growth of microbes, including Candida albicans which causes vaginal yeast infections, diaper rash in infants, and other health problems. From the abstract of the study published in J. Agric. Food Chem.:
A novel antifungal protein (Pr-2) was identified from pumpkin rinds using water-soluble extraction, ultrafiltration, cation exchange chromatography, and reverse-phase high-performance liquid chromatography. Matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometry indicated that the protein had a molecular mass of 14865.57 Da. Automated Edman degradation showed that the N-terminal sequence of Pr-2 was QGIGVGDNDGKRGKR−. The Pr-2 protein strongly inhibited in vitro growth of Botrytis cinerea, Colletotrichum coccodes, Fusarium solani, Fusarium oxysporum, and Trichoderma harzianum at 10−20 μM. The results of confocal laser scanning microscopy and SYTOX Green uptake demonstrated that its effective region was the membrane of the fungal cell surface. In addition, this protein was found to be noncytotoxic and heat-stable.
The pumpkin protein could be developed into a natural medicine for fighting not only yeast infections in humans, but also as an agricultural fungicide.