Repurposing salicylanilide anthelmintic drugs to combat drug resistant Staphylococcus aureus

Rajmohan Rajamuthiah, Beth Burgwyn Fuchs, Annie L. Conery, Wooseong Kim, Elamparithi Jayamani, Bumsup Kwon, Frederick M. Ausubel, Eleftherios Mylonakis

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115 Scopus citations


Staphylococcus aureus is a Gram-positive bacterium that has become the leading cause of hospital acquired infections in the US. Repurposing Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved drugs for antimicrobial therapy involves lower risks and costs compared to de novo development of novel antimicrobial agents. In this study, we examined the antimicrobial properties of two commercially available anthelmintic drugs. The FDA approved drug niclosamide and the veterinary drug oxyclozanide displayed strong in vivo and in vitro activity against methicillin resistant S. aureus (minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC): 0.125 and 0.5 μg/ml respectively; minimum effective concentration: 0.78 μg/ml for both drugs). The two drugs were also effective against another Gram-positive bacteria Enterococcus faecium (MIC 0.25 and 2 μg/ml respectively), but not against the Gram-negative species Klebsiella pneumoniae, Acinetobacter baumannii, Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Enterobacter aerogenes. The in vitro antimicrobial activity of niclosamide and oxyclozanide were determined against methicillin, vancomycin, linezolid or daptomycin resistant S. aureus clinical isolates, with MICs at 0.0625-0.5 and 0.125-2 μg/ml for niclosamide and oxyclozanide respectively. A time-kill study demonstrated that niclosamide is bacteriostatic, whereas oxyclozanide is bactericidal. Interestingly, oxyclozanide permeabilized the bacterial membrane but neither of the anthelmintic drugs exhibited demonstrable toxicity to sheep erythrocytes. Oxyclozanide was non-toxic to HepG2 human liver carcinoma cells within the range of its in vitro MICs but niclosamide displayed toxicity even at low concentrations. These data show that the salicylanilide anthelmintic drugs niclosamide and oxyclozanide are suitable candidates for mechanism of action studies and further clinical evaluation for treatment of staphylococcal infections.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0124595
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number4
StatePublished - 21 Apr 2015

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© 2015 Rajamuthiah et al.


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