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Effectiveness of purified methylene blue in an experimental model of Mycobacterium ulcerans infection

Tian, Roger B.D., Asmar, Shady, Napez, Claude, Lépidi, Hubert, Drancourt, Michel
International journal of antimicrobial agents 2017 v.49 no.3 pp. 290-295
Mycobacterium marinum, Mycobacterium ulcerans, animal models, genes, intraperitoneal injection, males, methylene blue, mice, patients, rifampicin, skin lesions, streptomycin, toxicity
Mycobacterium ulcerans is responsible for Buruli ulcer, characterised by extensive, disabling ulcers. Standard treatment combining rifampicin and streptomycin exposes patients to toxicity and daily painful injections. In this study, the in vitro susceptibilities of 3 M. ulcerans strains, 1 Mycobacterium marinum strain and 18 strains representative of eleven other Mycobacterium species and subspecies to methylene blue were determined. Whilst growth of M. ulcerans was inhibited by 0.0125 g/L methylene blue, growth of all other tested strains was not inhibited by 1 g/L methylene blue. The effectiveness of methylene blue in a murine model of M. ulcerans infection was then tested. Topical treatment by brushing a methylene blue solution on the skin lesion, systemic treatment by intraperitoneal injection of methylene blue, and a combined treatment (topical and systemic) were tested. The three treatment groups exhibited a significantly lower clinical score compared with the non-treated control group (P < 0.05). Moreover, subcutaneous nodules were significantly smaller in the systemic treatment group (excluding males) (3 ± 0.7 mm) compared with the other groups (P < 0.05). The M. ulcerans insertion sequence IS2404 and the KR-B gene were detected in all challenged mice, but not in negative controls. The density of M. ulcerans (mycobacteria/cell) was significantly lower in the combined treatment group compared with the other groups. These data provide evidence for the effectiveness of purified methylene blue against the initial stage of Buruli ulcer.