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Journal: International journal of antimicrobial agents


Recently, a novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV), officially known as severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), emerged in China. Despite drastic containment measures, the spread of this virus is ongoing. SARS-CoV-2 is the aetiological agent of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) characterised by pulmonary infection in humans. The efforts of international health authorities have since focused on rapid diagnosis and isolation of patients as well as the search for therapies able to counter the most severe effects of the disease. In the absence of a known efficient therapy and because of the situation of a public-health emergency, it made sense to investigate the possible effect of chloroquine/hydroxychloroquine against SARS-CoV-2 since this molecule was previously described as a potent inhibitor of most coronaviruses, including SARS-CoV-1. Preliminary trials of chloroquine repurposing in the treatment of COVID-19 in China have been encouraging, leading to several new trials. Here we discuss the possible mechanisms of chloroquine interference with the SARS-CoV-2 replication cycle.


Chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine have been found to be efficient on SARS-CoV-2, and reported to be efficient in Chinese COV-19 patients. We evaluate the role of hydroxychloroquine on respiratory viral loads.


The aim of this study was to seek additional data on the antimicrobial susceptibility of Staphylococcus spp. after habituation to low levels of the topical antimicrobial agent tea tree (Melaleuca alternifolia) oil. Meticillin-susceptible Staphylococcus aureus (MSSA), meticillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA) and coagulase-negative staphylococci (CoNS) were habituated to 0.075% tea tree oil for 3 days. Subsequently, the susceptibility of five isolates each of MSSA, MRSA and CoNS to fusidic acid, mupirocin, chloramphenicol, linezolid and vancomycin was determined by Etest, and susceptibility to tea tree oil, terpinen-4-ol, carvacrol and triclosan was determined by agar dilution. Following habituation to 0.075% tea tree oil, antimicrobial MICs differed between control and habituated isolates on 33 occasions (out of a possible 150), with MICs being higher in habituated isolates on 22 occasions. Using clinical breakpoint criteria, one MSSA isolate changed susceptibility category from vancomycin-susceptible (MIC=2μg/mL) to intermediate susceptibility (MIC=3μg/mL) after habituation in one of two replicates. For the non-antibiotic antimicrobial agents, MICs of habituated and control isolates differed on 12 occasions (out of a possible 120); 10 occasions in MRSA and 2 occasions in MSSA. MICs were higher for habituated isolates on five occasions. However, all the differences were one serial dilution only and were not regarded as significant. Habituation to sublethal concentrations of tea tree oil led to minor changes in MICs of antimicrobial agents, only one of which may have been clinically relevant. There is no evidence to suggest that tea tree oil induces resistance to antimicrobial agents.

Concepts: Microbiology, Staphylococcus aureus, Antibiotic resistance, Staphylococcus, Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, Vancomycin, Antimicrobial, Tea tree oil


The fungal pathogen Cryptococcus neoformans poses a major threat to immunocompromised patients and is a leading killer of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-infected patients worldwide. Cryptococci are known to manipulate host macrophages and can either remain latent or proliferate intracellularly within the host phagocyte, a favourable niche that also renders them relatively insensitive to antifungal agents. Here we report an attempt to address this limitation by using a fluorescence-based drug screening method to identify potential inhibitors of intracellular proliferation of C. neoformans. The Prestwick Chemical Library(®) of FDA-approved small molecules was screened for compounds that limit the intracellular replication of a fluorescently-tagged C. neoformans reference strain (H99-GFP) in macrophages. Preliminary screening revealed 19 of 1200 compounds that could significantly reduce intracellular growth of the pathogen. Secondary screening and host cell cytotoxicity assays highlighted fendiline hydrochloride as a potential drug candidate for the development of future anticryptococcal therapies. Live cell imaging demonstrated that this Ca(2+) channel blocker strongly enhanced phagosome maturation in macrophages leading to improved fungal killing and reduced intracellular replication. Whilst the relatively high dose of fendiline hydrochloride required renders it unfit for clinical deployment against cryptococcosis, this study highlights a novel approach for identifying new lead compounds and unravels a pharmacologically promising scaffold towards the development of novel antifungal therapies for this neglected disease.

Concepts: HIV, AIDS, Immune system, Cryptococcus neoformans, Enzyme inhibitor, Flucytosine, Basidiomycota, Fluconazole


Clinical isolates of Pseudomonas aeruginosa exhibiting high-level resistance to carbapenems were recovered from a French patient with cystic fibrosis (CF) who had not received carbapenem therapy. This study was conducted to investigate the molecular mechanism conferring the carbapenem-resistant phenotype in clinical isolates of P. aeruginosa recovered from the same CF patient chronically colonised since 2005. Investigation of imipenem resistance of P. aeruginosa strain_02 isolated in May 2011 showed no carbapenemase activity. However, amplification and sequencing of the oprD porin gene revealed disruption of this gene by an insertion sequence (IS) element of 1337bp that contained a novel transposase of 1227bp (ISPa46) bordered by two terminal imperfect inverted repeats of 28bp, which was associated with carbapenem resistance. Retrospective analysis of five additional strains of P. aeruginosa isolated before May 2011 from the same patient revealed that all isolates were likely to be the same clone by multilocus sequence typing analysis (ST540/551), but one of the five isolates was imipenem-susceptible. Although it was possible to demonstrate the presence of ISPa46 in all strains by PCR, this IS was transposed in the oprD gene only for imipenem-resistant isolates. Therefore, this study reports a novel IS element (ISPa46) in P. aeruginosa clinical isolates of a CF patient in Marseille, France, that was associated with carbapenem resistance and was selected in the absence of carbapenem treatment.

Concepts: Genetics, Bacteria, Molecular biology, Antibiotic resistance, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Cystic fibrosis, Ertapenem, Imipenem


Viridans group streptococci (VGS) are a major cause of bacteraemia in neutropenic cancer patients, particularly those receiving fluoroquinolone prophylaxis. In this study, we sought to understand the molecular basis for fluoroquinolone resistance in VGS causing bacteraemia in cancer patients by assigning 115 VGS bloodstream isolates to specific species using multilocus sequence analysis (MLSA), by sequencing the quinolone resistance-determining regions (QRDRs) of gyrA, gyrB, parC and parE, and by testing strain susceptibility to various fluoroquinolones. Non-susceptibility to one or more fluoroquinolones was observed for 78% of isolates, however only 68.7% of patients were receiving fluoroquinolone prophylaxis. All but one of the determinative QRDR polymorphisms occurred in GyrA or ParC, yet the pattern of determinative QRDR polymorphisms was significantly associated with the fluoroquinolone prophylaxis received. By combining MLSA and QRDR data, multiple patients infected with genetically indistinguishable fluoroquinolone-resistant Streptococcus mitis or Streptococcus oralis strains were discovered. Together these data delineate the molecular mechanisms of fluoroquinolone resistance in VGS isolates causing bacteraemia and suggest possible transmission of fluoroquinolone-resistant S. mitis and S. oralis isolates among cancer patients.

Concepts: Streptococcus, Gram positive bacteria, Streptococcaceae, Group A streptococcal infection, Quinolone, Streptococcus viridans, Streptococcus oralis, Streptococcus mitis


The dissemination of Gram-negative bacteria (GNB) producing extended-spectrum β-lactamases (ESBLs), plasmid-encoded cephalosporinases (pAmpCs) and carbapenemases is a matter of great clinical concern. In this study, we evaluated a new low-density DNA array ‘Check-MDR CT103 XL’ (Check-Points, Wageningen, The Netherlands) that identifies the most clinically relevant β-lactamase genes of ESBLs (blaTEM, blaSHV, blaCTX-M, blaBEL, blaPER, blaGES and blaVEB), pAmpCs (blaCMY-2-like, blaDHA, blaFOX, blaACC-1, blaACT/MIR and blaCMY-1-like/MOX) and carbapenemases (blaKPC, blaOXA-48, blaVIM, blaIMP, blaNDM, blaGIM, blaSPM and blaOXA-23, -24 and -58) in cultured bacteria. In total, 223 GNB isolates with well-characterised resistance mechanisms to β-lactams were analysed. A specificity and sensitivity of 100% were recorded for most bla genes, with a slightly lower signal observed for blaIMP. The Check-MDR CT103 XL array proved highly accurate for the identification of epidemiologically relevant ESBL, pAmpC and carbapenemase genes harboured in Enterobacteriaceae, Pseudomonas and Acinetobacter spp. The Check-MDR CT103 XL assay is a significant improvement compared with Check-MDR CT103 and it highlights the ability of this array to evolve rapidly to adjust to the current needs for the detection of resistance mechanisms to β-lactam agents.

Concepts: DNA, Gene expression, Bioinformatics, Bacteria, Antibiotic resistance, Sensitivity and specificity, Escherichia coli, DNA microarray


Infections due to extended-spectrum beta-lactamases (ESBL)-producing Enterobacteriaceae pose a major public health threat due to poor outcomes and high mortality rates. We aimed to conduct a systematic review and meta-analysis to investigate the impact of intravenous beta-lactam/ beta-lactamase inhibitors (BL-BLI) including piperacillin-tazobactam (PTZ) on mortality of patients with ESBL- producing Enterobacteriaceae bloodstream infections compared to carbapenem.


Staphylococcus aureus confers life-threatening and difficult to treat infections worldwide and antimicrobial resistance is an increasing concern. While acquired resistance has been widely studied, little is known of the contributions from chromosomal determinants that upon inactivation may reduce the susceptibility towards antibiotics. The aim of this study was to identify genetic determinants that upon inactivation reduce aminoglycoside susceptibility in Staphylococcus aureus. We screened the Nebraska Transposon Mutant Library of 1920 single-gene inactivations in S. aureus strain JE2, for reduced susceptibility to gentamicin. 9 mutants were confirmed by E-test to display between 2 and 16-fold reduced susceptibility to this antibiotic. All of the identified genes were associated with the electron transport chain and energy metabolism. Four mutant strains (menD, hemB, aroC and SAUSA300_0355) conferred the largest increase in gentamicin susceptibility and exhibited a small colony variant phenotype, whereas the remaining mutants (qoxA, qoxB, qoxC, ndh and hemX) displayed colony morphology similar to the wild type. All of the mutants, except hemX, displayed reduced membrane potential suggesting that reduced uptake of gentamicin is the predominant mechanism leading to reduced susceptibility. The results of this study demonstrate that Staphylococcus aureus possess multiple genes, which upon inactivation by mutagenesis reduce the membrane potential and thereby reduce the lethal activity of gentamicin.

Concepts: Photosynthesis, Gene, Bacteria, Adenosine triphosphate, Staphylococcus aureus, Antibiotic resistance, Cellular respiration, Nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide


Schistosomiasis is a major public health problem worldwide, especially in poor communities. Since praziquantel is currently the only drug available to treat schistosomiasis, there is an urgent need to identify new antischistosomal drugs. Nerolidol is a sesquiterpene present as an essential oil in several plants, and it has been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration. In this study, we evaluated the in vivo antischistosomal activity of nerolidol in a mouse model of schistosomiasis infected with either adult or juvenile stages of Schistosoma mansoni. A single dose of nerolidol (100, 200 or 400 mg/kg) administered orally to mice infected with adult schistosomes resulted in a reduction in the worm burden and egg production. The treatment with the highest dose of nerolidol (400 mg/kg) significantly caused a total worm burden reduction of 70.06% (P<0.001). In addition, the technique of quantitative and qualitative oograms showed that a single dose of 400 mg/kg achieved immature egg reductions of 84.6% (P<0.001). In feces samples, the Kato-Katz method also revealed a reduction of 75.2% of eggs per gram at a dose of 400 mg/kg (P<0.001). Furthermore, scanning electron microscopy revealed that nerolidol-mediated worm killing was associated with tegumental damage. In contrast to the activity against adult S. mansoni infections, oral treatment with nerolidol 400 mg/kg had low efficacy in mice harboring juvenile schistosomes. Since nerolidol is already in use globally as a food additive and has a safety record, evaluation of this natural compound's potential for the treatment of schistosomiasis could be entirely cost-effective in the near future.

Concepts: Schistosomiasis, Schistosoma mansoni, Schistosoma, Digenea, Strigeidida