Antibiotic accumulation and efflux in eukaryotic cells : a journey at the frontier of pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics

by Van Bambeke, Françoise

Abstract (Summary)
The “magic bullet” theory stated by Paul Ehrlich more than one century ago foresees that drugs need to reach their target to exert their pharmacological activity. When dealing with antibiotics, this implies not only a capacity to interact with bacteria, but also to rejoin them in the infected compartment. The latter property is directly linked to pharmacokinetics. In this Thesis, we have focused our interest on cellular pharmacokinetics of antibiotics in macrophages, reasoning that (i) this model would be relevant for predicting the access of antibiotics to intracellular bacteria, and (ii) deciphering mechanisms of drug entry, distribution, and efflux in single cells would provide pieces of information applicable to the understanding of general pharmaco-kinetics. Accumulation and distribution were studied for oritavancin, a semi-synthetic glycopeptide currently in phase III of clinical development. This molecule is characterized by a highly bactericidal activity against staphylococci, including multiresistant strains, which would be of interest for the eradication of the intracellular forms of these bacteria. We show that oritavancin enters macrophages by adsorptive endocytosis and accumulates to very large amounts in lysosomes, with cellular concentrations as high as 300-fold the extracellular ones. Accordingly, it exerts a concentration-dependent bactericidal activity against Staphylococcus aureus multiplying in phagolysosomes. In parallel, however, it also causes morphological and biochemical alterations, characterized by the deposition of material of heterogeneous aspect and the accumulation of phospholipids and cholesterol. These data point to the difficulty of dissociating high cellular accumulation and cellular toxicity and plead for the interest of in vitro models in the evaluation of the intracellular activity of antibiotics, the early assessment of drug safety profile and the orientation of further in vivo studies. Active efflux was evaluated for macrolides and quinolones, two antibiotic classes accumulating in macrophages and therefore usually considered as useful in the treatment intracellular infections. Macrophages indeed express multidrug transporters in their pericellular membrane, which can extrude a large variety of drugs presenting as common feature an amphiphatic character. We show that macrolides (and azithromycin in particular) are substrates for P-glycoprotein, while quinolones (and ciprofloxacin in particular) are substrates for an MRP-like transporter. Inhibiting these pumps increases the intracellular activity of these antibiotics by enhancing their cellular accumulation. We also describe different mode of transport for these antibiotics, which essentially reflect their variable fluxes through the membrane. These data underline the major role constitutive efflux plays in the modulation of the pharmacokinetics of drugs, and, hence, of their pharmacodynamics. They encourage the setting-up of large-scale screenings aimed at evaluating drug-transporter interactions in lead optimization processes. We may therefore conclude to the usefulness of cellular models in the study of the pharmacokinetics of drugs and of its consequences for pharmacodynamics and toxicity, and suggest the implementation of such models in the early development of new drugs.
Bibliographical Information:


School:Université catholique de Louvain

School Location:Belgium

Source Type:Master's Thesis

Keywords:antibiotics antibiotiques cellular pharmacodynamics pharmacodynamie cellulaire pharmacocinétique pharmacokinetics


Date of Publication:04/07/2005

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