Background: New strategies are needed to slow the emergence of antibiotic resistance among bacterial pathogens. In particular, society is experiencing a crisis of antibiotic-resistant infections caused by Gram-negative bacterial pathogens and novel therapeutics are desperately needed to combat such diseases. Acquisition of iron from the host is a nearly universal requirement for microbial pathogens-including Gram-negative bacteria-to cause infection. We have previously reported that apo-transferrin (lacking iron) can inhibit the growth of Staphylococcus aureus in culture and diminish emergence of resistance to rifampicin.
Objectives: To define the potential of apo-transferrin to inhibit in vitro growth of Klebsiella pneumoniae and Acinetobacter baumannii, key Gram-negative pathogens, and to reduce emergence of resistance to antibiotics.
Methods: The efficacy of apo-transferrin alone or in combination with meropenem or ciprofloxacin against K. pneumoniae and A. baumannii clinical isolates was tested by MIC assay, time-kill assay and assays for the selection of resistant mutants.
Results: We confirmed that apo-transferrin had detectable MICs for all strains tested of both pathogens. Apo-transferrin mediated an additive antimicrobial effect for both antibiotics against multiple strains in time-kill assays. Finally, adding apo-transferrin to ciprofloxacin or meropenem reduced the emergence of resistant mutants during 20 day serial passaging of both species.
Conclusions: These results suggest that apo-transferrin may have promise to suppress the emergence of antibiotic-resistant mutants when treating infections caused by Gram-negative bacteria.
© The Author(s) 2019. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the British Society for Antimicrobial Chemotherapy.