Ranking of Major Classes of Antibiotics for Activity against Stationary Phase Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Identification of Clinafloxacin + Cefuroxime + Gentamicin Drug Combination that Eradicates Persistent P. aeruginosa Infection in a Murine Cystic Fibrosis Model
Pseudomonas aeruginosa can cause serious persistent infections such as ventilator-associated pneumonia, sepsis, biofilm-related infections as in cystic fibrosis (CF) patients. Although CF lung infections can be treated with antibiotics, full clearance is difficult due to P. aeruginosa persistence. While antibiotic activity against growing P. aeruginosa is well documented, their activity against the non-growing persisters enriched in stationary phase cultures has not been well studied. Here, we systematically evaluated and ranked the six major classes of antibiotics, cell wall and cell membrane inhibitors, protein synthesis inhibitors, DNA synthesis inhibitors, RNA synthesis inhibitors, sulfa drugs, and nitrofurantoin, for their activity against both growing and persister forms of P. aeruginosa using colony forming count (CFU) and SYBR Green I/Propidium Iodide (PI) viability assay. Among the six major classes of antibiotics, cell wall and cell membrane inhibitors (Cefuroxime and Colistin), DNA synthesis inhibitors (Clinafloxacin) and sulfa drugs (Sulfamethoxazole) had good activity against stationary phase cells. In contrast, protein synthesis inhibitors (Gentamicin), RNA synthesis inhibitor (Rifampicin) and Nitrofurantoin had relatively poor activity against the stationary phase P. aeruginosa but relatively high activity against log phase P. aeruginosa. Clinafloxacin is the only single drug that could completely kill all (109 CFU) stationary phase cells in a 4 day drug exposure. The Cefuroxime + Gentamicin+ Clinafloxacin combination could kill all biofilm bacteria in 2 days whereas the clinically used drug combination Cefuroxime + Gentamicin + Colistin only partially killed the biofilm bacteria with 103 CFU remaining. In a murine persistent CF lung infection model, only Cefuroxime + Gentamicin+ Clinafloxacin cleared all bacteria in the infected lungs, whereas Clinafloxacin alone, or Cefuroxime + Clinafloxacin, or the current recommended drug combination Cefuroxime + Gentamicin, all failed to completely clear the bacterial load in the lungs. The complete sterilization of the bacterial load is a property of Clinafloxacin combination, as Cefuroxime + Gentamicin+ Levofloxacin combination was unable to clear the bacterial load in the lungs. Our findings demonstrate the importance of persister drug clinafloxacin, offer new therapeutic approaches for more effective treatment of persistent P. aeruginosa infections, and may have implications for treating other persistent infections.
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