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The main function of antibiotics is related to their capacity to eliminate a microorganism. In addition to the antimicrobial function of antibiotics, they are known to have anti-inflammatory and vasomodulatory effects on the microcirculation. The ability of non-antimicrobial derivatives of antibiotics to control inflammation illustrates the distinct anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory roles of antibiotics. In this review, we discuss the impact of antibiotics on leukocyte recruitment and the state of the microcirculation. Literature reporting the effect of antibiotics in non-infectious inflammatory conditions is reviewed as well as the studies demonstrating the anti-inflammatory effects of antibiotics in animal models of infection. In addition, the effect of the antibiotics on the immune system is summarized in this review, in order to postulate some mechanisms of action for the proand anti-inflammatory contribution of antibiotics. Literature reported the effect of antibiotics on the production of cytokines, chemotaxis and recruitment of leukocytes, production of reactive oxygen species, process of phagocytosis and autophagy, and apoptosis of leukocytes. Yet, all antibiotics may not necessarily exert an anti-inflammatory effect on the microcirculation. Thus, we suggest a model for spectrum of anti-inflammatory and vasomodulatory effects of antibiotics in the microcirculation of animals in local and systemic inflammation. Although the literature suggests the ability of antibiotics to modulate leukocyte recruitment and microperfusion, the process and the mechanism of action are not fully characterized. Studying this process will expand the knowledge base that is required for the selection of antibiotic treatment based on its anti-inflammatory functions, which might be particularly important for critically ill patients.


N A Al-Banna, D Pavlovic, M Gr√ľndling, J Zhou, M Kelly, S Whynot, O Hung, B Johnston, T B Issekutz, H Kern, V Cerny, Ch Lehmann. Impact of antibiotics on the microcirculation in local and systemic inflammation. Clinical hemorheology and microcirculation. 2013;53(1-2):155-69

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PMID: 22975936

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