Modification of the Susceptibility of Gram-Negative Rods Producing ESβLS to β-Lactams by the Efflux Phenomenon
Whole-cell assays were implemented to search for efflux pump inhibitors (EPIs) of the three multidrug resistance efflux pumps (MexAB-OprM, MexCD-OprJ, MexEF-OprN) that contribute to fluoroquinolone resistance in clinical isolates of Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Secondary assays were developed to identify lead compounds with exquisite activities as inhibitors. A broad-spectrum EPI which is active against all three known Mex efflux pumps from P. aeruginosa and their close Escherichia coli efflux pump homolog (AcrAB-TolC) was discovered. When this compound, MC-207,110, was used, the intrinsic resistance of P. aeruginosa to fluoroquinolones was decreased significantly (eightfold for levofloxacin). Acquired resistance due to the overexpression of efflux pumps was also decreased (32- to 64-fold reduction in the MIC of levofloxacin). Similarly, 32- to 64-fold reductions in MICs in the presence of MC-207,110 were observed for strains with overexpressed efflux pumps and various target mutations that confer resistance to levofloxacin (e.g., gyrA and parC). We also compared the frequencies of emergence of levofloxacin-resistant variants in the wild-type strain at four times the MIC of levofloxacin (1 microg/ml) when it was used either alone or in combination with EPI. In the case of levofloxacin alone, the frequency was approximately 10(-7) CFU/ml. In contrast, with an EPI, the frequency was below the level of detection (<10(-11)). In summary, we have demonstrated that inhibition of efflux pumps (i) decreased the level of intrinsic resistance significantly, (ii) reversed acquired resistance, and (iii) resulted in a decreased frequency of emergence of P. aeruginosa strains that are highly resistant to fluoroquinolones.