Infections caused by nontuberculous mycobacteria (NTM) are increasing worldwide, resulting in a new global health concern. NTM treatment is complex and requires combinations of several drugs for lengthy periods. In spite of this, NTM disease is often associated with poor treatment outcomes. The anti-parasitic family of macrocyclic lactones (ML) (divided in two subfamilies: avermectins and milbemycins) was previously described as having activity against mycobacteria, including Mycobacterium tuberculosis, Mycobacterium ulcerans, and Mycobacterium marinum, among others. Here, we aimed to characterize the in vitro anti-mycobacterial activity of ML against a wide range of NTM species, including Mycobacteroides abscessus. For this, Minimum Inhibitory Concentration (MIC) values of eight ML were determined against 80 strains belonging to nine different NTM species. Macrocyclic lactones showed variable ranges of anti-mycobacterial activity that were compound and species-dependent. Milbemycin oxime was the most active compound, displaying broad-spectrum activity with MIC lower than 8 mg/L. Time kill assays confirmed MIC data and showed bactericidal and sterilizing activity of some compounds. Macrocyclic lactones are available in many formulations and have been extensively used in veterinary and human medicine with suitable pharmacokinetics and safety properties. This information could be exploited to explore repurposing of anti-helminthics for NTM therapy.
Keywords: Mycobacteroides abscessus; avermectins; milbemycin oxime; nontuberculous mycobacteria; repurposing; selamectin.