Cystic fibrosis (CF) is associated with repeated lung bacterial infection, mainly by Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Staphylococcus aureus, and Mycobacterium abscessus, all known to be or becoming resistant to several antibiotics, often leading to therapeutic failure and death. In this context, antimicrobial peptides and antimicrobial polymers active against resistant strains and less prompt to cause resistance, appear as a good alternative to conventional antibiotics. In the present study, methacrylate-based copolymers obtained by radical chemistry were evaluated against CF-associated bacterial strains. Results showed that the type (Random versus Diblock) and the size of the copolymers affected their antibacterial activity and toxicity. Among the different copolymers tested, four (i.e., Random10200, Random15000, Random23900, and Diblock9500) were identified as the most active and the safest molecules and were further investigated. Data showed that they inserted into bacterial lipids, leading to a rapid membranolytic effect and killing of the bacterial. In relation with their fast bactericidal action and conversely to conventional antibiotics, those copolymers did not induce a resistance and remained active against antibiotic-resistant strains. Finally, the selected copolymers possessed a preventive effect on biofilm formation, although not exhibiting disruptive activity. Overall, the present study demonstrates that methacrylate-based copolymers are an interesting alternative to conventional antibiotics in the treatment of CF-associated bacterial infection.
Keywords: Mycobacterium abscessus; Pseudomonas aeruginosa; Staphylococcus aureus; amphiphilic cationic polymers; antibacterial; antibiotic resistance; antimicrobial; cystic fibrosis; radical polymerization.