Publication Details

Rineh, A., Bremner, J. B., Hamblin, M. R., Ball, A. R., Tegos, G. P. & Kelso, M. J. (2018). Attaching NorA efflux pump inhibitors to methylene blue enhances antimicrobial photodynamic inactivation of Escherichia coli and Acinetobacter baumannii in vitro and in vivo. Bioorganic and Medicinal Chemistry Letters, Online First 1-5.


Resistance of bacteria to antibiotics is a public health concern worldwide due to the increasing failure of standard antibiotic therapies. Antimicrobial photodynamic inactivation (aPDI) is a promising non-antibiotic alternative for treating localized bacterial infections that uses non-toxic photosensitizers and harmless visible light to produce reactive oxygen species and kill microbes. Phenothiazinium photosensitizers like methylene blue (MB) and toluidine blue O are hydrophobic cations that are naturally expelled from bacterial cells by multidrug efflux pumps, which reduces their effectiveness. We recently reported the discovery of a NorA efflux pump inhibitor-methylene blue (EPI-MB) hybrid compound INF55-(Ac)en-MB that shows enhanced photodynamic inactivation of the Gram-positive bacterium methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) relative to MB, both in vitro and in vivo. Here, we report the surprising observation that INF55-(Ac)en-MB and two related hybrids bearing the NorA efflux pump inhibitors INF55 and INF271 also show enhanced aPDI activity in vitro (relative to MB) against the Gram-negative bacteria Escherichia coli and Acinetobacter baumannii, despite neither species expressing the NorA pump. Two of the hybrids showed superior effects to MB in murine aPDI infection models. The findings motivate wider exploration of aPDI with EPI-MB hybrids against Gram-negative pathogens and more detailed studies into the molecular mechanisms underpinning their activity.

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