Bacterial Metabolism and Antibiotic Efficacy

Cell Metab. 2019 Aug 6;30(2):251-259. doi: 10.1016/j.cmet.2019.06.009. Epub 2019 Jul 3.


Antibiotics target energy-consuming processes. As such, perturbations to bacterial metabolic homeostasis are significant consequences of treatment. Here, we describe three postulates that collectively define antibiotic efficacy in the context of bacterial metabolism: (1) antibiotics alter the metabolic state of bacteria, which contributes to the resulting death or stasis; (2) the metabolic state of bacteria influences their susceptibility to antibiotics; and (3) antibiotic efficacy can be enhanced by altering the metabolic state of bacteria. Altogether, we aim to emphasize the close relationship between bacterial metabolism and antibiotic efficacy as well as propose areas of exploration to develop novel antibiotics that optimally exploit bacterial metabolic networks.

Keywords: antibiotic adjuvants; antibiotic mechanism; antibiotic tolerance; bacterial metabolism.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / pharmacology*
  • Bacteria / drug effects*
  • Bacteria / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Microbial Sensitivity Tests


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents