A new strategy to fight antimicrobial resistance: the revival of old antibiotics

Front Microbiol. 2014 Oct 20;5:551. doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2014.00551. eCollection 2014.


The increasing prevalence of hospital and community-acquired infections caused by multidrug-resistant (MDR) bacterial pathogens is limiting the options for effective antibiotic therapy. Moreover, this alarming spread of antimicrobial resistance has not been paralleled by the development of novel antimicrobials. Resistance to the scarce new antibiotics is also emerging. In this context, the rational use of older antibiotics could represent an alternative to the treatment of MDR bacterial pathogens. It would help to optimize the armamentarium of antibiotics in the way to preserve new antibiotics and avoid the prescription of molecules known to favor the spread of resistance (i.e., quinolones). Furthermore, in a global economical perspective, this could represent a useful public health orientation knowing that several of these cheapest "forgotten" antibiotics are not available in many countries. We will review here the successful treatment of MDR bacterial infections with the use of old antibiotics and discuss their place in current practice.

Keywords: ESBLs; MDR-tuberculosis; MRSA and VRE; colistin; fosfomycin; multi-drug-resistant pathogens; tetracycline; trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole combination.

Publication types

  • Review