A method for testing for synergy with any number of agents

J Infect Dis. 1978 Feb;137(2):122-30. doi: 10.1093/infdis/137.2.122.


The standard checkerboard titration for detecting synergy between antibiotics is practicable for combinations of two antibiotics, laborious for combinations of three, and not feasible for combinations of four or more. Nevertheless, methods for testing of combinations of several antibiotics are urgently needed because some combinations might be superior to those in use and enable the successful treatment of infections resistant to current therapy. A simple method for measurement of synergy (or antagonism) with combinations of any number of agents has been developed which requires less effort than the standard checkerboard titration of two agents. With this method, the concentrations of each of n agents producing some specified effect (such as minimal inhibitory concentration or minimal bactericidal concentration) are determined. A reference combination made up of 1/n of each of these concentrations is titrated to find a dilution that produces the specified effect. The degree of dilution required is equal to the sum of the fractional inhibitory concentrations (concentration of each agent in combination/concentration of each agent alone) as conventionally determined by checkerboard titrations; sums of less than 1, 1, and greater than 1 indicate synergy, additivity, and antagonism, respectively.

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Drug Synergism*
  • Mathematics
  • Methods


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents