Antibiotic Adjuvants: Rescuing Antibiotics from Resistance

Trends Microbiol. 2016 Nov;24(11):862-871. doi: 10.1016/j.tim.2016.06.009. Epub 2016 Jul 15.


Rooted in the mechanism of action of antibiotics and subject to bacterial evolution, antibiotic resistance is difficult and perhaps impossible to overcome. Nevertheless, strategies can be used to minimize the emergence and impact of resistance. Antibiotic adjuvants offer one such approach. These are compounds that have little or no antibiotic activity themselves but act to block resistance or otherwise enhance antibiotic action. Antibiotic adjuvants are therefore delivered in combination with antibiotics and can be divided into two groups: Class I agents that act on the pathogen, and Class II agents that act on the host. Adjuvants offer a means to both suppress the emergence of resistance and rescue the activity of existing drugs, offering an orthogonal strategy complimentary to new antibiotic discovery VIDEO ABSTRACT.

Keywords: antibacterial; drug combinations; drug discovery; inhibitor.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adjuvants, Pharmaceutic / pharmacology*
  • Adjuvants, Pharmaceutic / therapeutic use
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / chemistry
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / pharmacology*
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use
  • Bacteria / drug effects
  • Bacterial Infections / drug therapy
  • Drug Combinations
  • Drug Discovery
  • Drug Resistance, Multiple, Bacterial / drug effects*
  • Drug Resistance, Multiple, Bacterial / physiology
  • Drug Synergism
  • Humans
  • beta-Lactamases


  • Adjuvants, Pharmaceutic
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Drug Combinations
  • beta-Lactamases