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Mycobacterium abscessus is notorious for being intrinsically resistant to most antibiotics. Antibiotic efflux is one of the mechanisms used by M. abscessus to pump out antibiotics from their cells. Inhibiting efflux pumps (EPs) can be an attractive strategy to enhance the activity of drugs. The objective of this study is to determine the activity of EP inhibitors (EPIs) to enhance the efficacy of the new drug bedaquiline against M. abscessus clinical isolates. A total of 31 phenotypically and genotypically identified M. abscessus subsp. abscessus, M. abscesss subsp. massiliense, and M. abscessus subsp. bolletii clinical isolates were studied. The contribution of EPs was determined by investigating the minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC) levels of bedaquiline reduction in the absence and presence of EPIs verapamil and reserpine using the resazurin microtiter assay. The observed bedaquiline MIC reduction by verapamil was observed in 100% isolates and by reserpine in 54.8% isolates. Bedaquiline MIC was 4-32-fold using verapamil with M. abscessus subsp. bolletii showing the highest fold change and between 2- and 4-fold using reserpine. The results obtained in this study confirm that bedaquiline MIC decreased in the presence of EPIs verapamil and reserpine in clinical isolates of M. abscessus. Verapamil was the most effective EPI. As shown in previous studies, verapamil may have clinical potential as adjunctive therapy to enhance the effect of bedaquiline.


Anandi Martin, Yasmine Bouyakoub, Kate Soumillion, El Onore Ngyuvula Mantu, Alexandre Colmant, Hector Rodriguez-Villalobos. Targeting bedaquiline mycobacterial efflux pump to potentially enhance therapy in Mycobacterium abscessus. International journal of mycobacteriology. 2020 Jan-Mar;9(1):71-75

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PMID: 32474492

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