ABSTRACT: In vivo effectiveness of topical antibiotics may depend on their ability to associate with epithelial cells to provide continued protection, but this contribution is not measured by standard antibiotic susceptibility tests. We report a new in vitro method that measures the ability of test antibiotics azithromycin (AZM), erythromycin (ERY), tetracycline (TET), and bacitracin (BAC) to associate with mammalian cells and to protect these cells from destruction by bacteria. Mammalian cell lines were grown to confluence using antibiotic-free medium and then incubated in medium containing a single antibiotic (0 to 512 μg/ml). After incubation, the cells were challenged with Staphylococcus aureus ocular isolates, without antibiotics added to the culture medium. Epithelial cell layer integrity was assessed by gentian violet staining, and the minimum cell layer protective concentration (MCPC) of an antibiotic sufficient to protect the mammalian cells from S. aureus was determined. Staining was also quantified and analyzed. Bacterial viability was determined by culture turbidity and growth on agar plates. Preincubation of Chang and human corneal limbal epithelial cells with AZM, ERY, and TET at ≥64 μg/ml provided protection against AZM-susceptible S. aureus strains, with increasing protection at higher concentrations. TET toxicity was demonstrated at >64 μg/ml, whereas AZM displayed toxicity to one cell line at 512 μg/ml. BAC failed to show consistent protection at any dose, despite bacterial susceptibility to BAC as determined by traditional antibiotic susceptibility testing. A range of antibiotic effectiveness was displayed in this cell association assay, providing data that may be considered in addition to traditional testing when determining therapeutic dosing regimens.
Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy 05/2011; 55(8):3788-94. · 4.84 Impact Factor