Adjunctive transferrin to reduce the emergence of antibiotic resistance in Gram-negative bacteria.

The Journal of antimicrobial chemotherapy (2019-06-07)
Brian M Luna, Ksenia Ershova, Jun Yan, Amber Ulhaq, Travis B Nielsen, Sarah Hsieh, Paul Pantapalangkoor, Brian Vanscoy, Paul Ambrose, Sue Rudin, Kristine Hujer, Robert A Bonomo, Luis Actis, Eric P Skaar, Brad Spellberg

New strategies are needed to slow the emergence of antibiotic resistance among bacterial pathogens. In particular, society is experiencing a crisis of antibiotic-resistant infections caused by Gram-negative bacterial pathogens and novel therapeutics are desperately needed to combat such diseases. Acquisition of iron from the host is a nearly universal requirement for microbial pathogens-including Gram-negative bacteria-to cause infection. We have previously reported that apo-transferrin (lacking iron) can inhibit the growth of Staphylococcus aureus in culture and diminish emergence of resistance to rifampicin. To define the potential of apo-transferrin to inhibit in vitro growth of Klebsiella pneumoniae and Acinetobacter baumannii, key Gram-negative pathogens, and to reduce emergence of resistance to antibiotics. The efficacy of apo-transferrin alone or in combination with meropenem or ciprofloxacin against K. pneumoniae and A. baumannii clinical isolates was tested by MIC assay, time-kill assay and assays for the selection of resistant mutants. We confirmed that apo-transferrin had detectable MICs for all strains tested of both pathogens. Apo-transferrin mediated an additive antimicrobial effect for both antibiotics against multiple strains in time-kill assays. Finally, adding apo-transferrin to ciprofloxacin or meropenem reduced the emergence of resistant mutants during 20 day serial passaging of both species. These results suggest that apo-transferrin may have promise to suppress the emergence of antibiotic-resistant mutants when treating infections caused by Gram-negative bacteria.

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apo-Transferrin human, powder, BioReagent, suitable for cell culture, ≥98% (agarose gel electrophoresis)
Iron(III) chloride, reagent grade, 97%
Ciprofloxacin, ≥98% (HPLC)