Adjuvant Strategies for Potentiation of Antibiotics to Overcome Antimicrobial Resistance

Curr Opin Pharmacol. 2012 Oct;12(5):551-5. doi: 10.1016/j.coph.2012.07.005. Epub 2012 Jul 25.


Alarming facts about the occurrence and spreading of multiple antibiotic resistant bacteria have caught the attention of global surveillance authorities and public media. The demand for novel effective antimicrobial drugs is high and on the rise while, at the same time, the supply of fresh 'magic bullets' is drying up. This review summarizes examples of recent strategies for development of adjunctive antibiotic therapies that overcome microbial resistance and thus rejuvenate the existing arsenal of drugs. Recent studies have demonstrated the potential of compounds that inhibit the action of the repressor protein implicated in ethionamide resistance, thus stimulating activation of the drug and thereby restoring the activity of the antibiotic for treatment of Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Such specific interference with regulators or signal transduction mechanisms involved in antibiotic resistance or virulence provides a new toolbox for novel combinations of antimicrobial drugs with adjuvant molecules lacking intrinsic antibiotic activity. In addition to the development of new antibiotics and vaccination initiatives this strategy of restoring or potentiating the activity of existing antibiotics may help to postpone the day when antibiotics are no longer generally efficacious.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adjuvants, Immunologic / pharmacology*
  • Adjuvants, Immunologic / therapeutic use*
  • Animals
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / pharmacology*
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Drug Resistance, Microbial
  • Drug Resistance, Multiple, Bacterial
  • Humans


  • Adjuvants, Immunologic
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents