Bartonella henselae can cause various infections in humans, ranging from benign and self-limiting diseases to severe and life-threatening diseases as well as persistent infections that are difficult to treat. To develop more effective treatments for persistent Bartonella infections, in this study, we performed a high-throughput screen of an FDA-approved drug library against stationary phase B. henselae using the SYBR Green I/propidium iodide (PI) viability assay. We identified 110 drug candidates that had better activity against stationary phase B. henselae than ciprofloxacin, and among the top 52 drug candidates tested, 41 drugs were confirmed by microscopy to have higher activity than the current frontline antibiotic erythromycin. The identified top drug candidates include pyrvinium pamoate, daptomycin, methylene blue, azole drugs (clotrimazole, miconazole, sulconazole, econazole, oxiconazole, butoconazole, bifonazole), aminoglycosides (gentamicin and streptomycin, amikacin, kanamycin), amifostine (Ethyol), antiviral Lopinavir/ritonavir, colistin, nitroxoline, nitrofurantoin, verteporfin, pentamidine, berberine, aprepitant, olsalazine, clinafloxacin, and clofoctol. Pyrvinium pamoate, daptomycin, methylene blue, clotrimazole, and gentamicin and streptomycin at their respective maximum drug concentration in serum (Cmax) had the capacity to completely eradicate stationary phase B. henselae after 3-day drug exposure in subculture studies. While the currently used drugs for treating bartonellosis, including rifampin, erythromycin, azithromycin, doxycycline, and ciprofloxacin, had very low minimal inhibitory concentration (MIC) against growing B. henselae, they had relatively poor activity against stationary phase B. henselae, except aminoglycosides. The identified FDA-approved agents with activity against stationary phase B. henselae should facilitate development of more effective treatments for persistent Bartonella infections.
Keywords: Bartonella henselae; FDA-approved drug library; antimicrobial activity; persisters; stationary phase.