Affect of anaerobiosis on the antibiotic susceptibility of H. influenzae

Smith, Hannah; Nelson, Kevin; Calaunan, Edison; Smith, Arnold; Nguyen, Victoria

Background: Haemophilus influenzae is a human-restricted facultative anaerobe which resides mostly in the oropharynx. The majority of isolates recovered from the throat are unencapsulated commensals (NTHi), but depending on host susceptibility they cause bronchitis, otitis media and on occasion bacteremia and meningitis. Because of the variable oxygen availability in the various niche permitting bacterium replication, the organism must thrive in well oxygenated surfaces, such as pharyngeal epithelium to anoxic environments like the bottom of a Biofilm and in airway mucus. Other reports indicate that H. influenzae use aerobic respiration, anaerobic respiration and fermentation to generate ATP. To gain insight in to the activity of several classes of antibiotics against five well-characterized unencapsulated H. influenzae in room air, in 5% CO₂ and under strict anaerobiosis. We also tested for the role of oxidative killing by all cidal antibiotics. Results: In comparison to room air, testing in 5% CO₂ had minimal effects on the susceptibility to aminoglycosides, cephalosporins, tetracycline and chloramphenicol: the MIC of rifampin and ciprofloxacin increased eight fold with certain strains in 5% CO₂. All antibiotics, except trimethoprim were cidal under both growth conditions. Aminoglycosides remained bactericidal in a strict anaerobic environment, while a reliable MBC was obtained with trimethoprim only under anaerobic conditions. Kinetic analysis of the cidal action of spectinomycin and tetracycline indicated slower killing anaerobically. An oxidative mechanism for aerobic killing could not be demonstrated. Conclusions: We conclude that β-lactams, cephalosporins, macrolides, tetracycline’s, aminoglycosides, chloramphenicol, rifampin and ciprofloxacin are bactericidal against five well-characterizes H. influenzae in an aerobic and anaerobic environment. The activity of trimethoprim was increased in anaerobic conditions.


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September 9, 2014


Haemophilus influenzae, Antibiotic activity, Anaerobiosis