Antibacterial properties of the CFTR potentiator ivacaftor

J Cyst Fibros. 2014 Sep;13(5):515-9. doi: 10.1016/j.jcf.2014.02.004. Epub 2014 Mar 5.


Background: Ivacaftor increases CFTR channel activity and improves pulmonary function for individuals bearing a G551D mutation. Because ivacaftor structurally resembles quinolone antibiotics, we tested the hypothesis that ivacaftor possesses antibacterial properties.

Methods: Bioluminescence, colony forming unit, and minimal inhibitory concentration assays were used to assess viability of Staphylococcus aureus, Pseudomonas aeruginosa and multiple clinical microbial isolates.

Results: Ivacaftor induced a dose-dependent reduction in bioluminescence of S. aureus and decreased the number of colony forming units. We observed a similar but less robust effect in P. aeruginosa following outer membrane permeabilization. Ivacaftor inhibited the growth of respiratory isolates of S. aureus and Streptococcus pneumoniae and exhibited positive interactions with antibiotics against lab and respiratory strains of S. aureus and S. pneumoniae.

Conclusion: These data indicate that ivacaftor exhibits antibacterial properties and raise the intriguing possibility that ivacaftor might have an antibiotic effect in people with CF.

Keywords: Antibiotic; Cystic fibrosis; Pseudomonas aeruginosa; Quinolone; Staphylococcus aureus.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aminophenols / pharmacology*
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / pharmacology*
  • Colony-Forming Units Assay
  • Cystic Fibrosis Transmembrane Conductance Regulator / physiology*
  • Drug Synergism
  • Luminescent Measurements
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa / drug effects
  • Quinolones / pharmacology*
  • Staphylococcus aureus / drug effects
  • Streptococcus pneumoniae / drug effects


  • Aminophenols
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • CFTR protein, human
  • Quinolones
  • Cystic Fibrosis Transmembrane Conductance Regulator
  • ivacaftor