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Anti-persister activity of squalamine against Acinetobacter baumannii

Nicol, Marion, Mlouka, Mohamed Amine Ben, Berthe, Thierry, Di Martino, Patrick, Jouenne, Thierry, Brunel, Jean-Michel, Dé, Emmanuelle
International journal of antimicrobial agents 2019 v.53 no.3 pp. 337-342
Acinetobacter baumannii, Gram-positive bacteria, Squalus acanthias, agar, antibacterial properties, chronic diseases, ciprofloxacin, cold, cold stress, colistin, cross infection, cytotoxicity, dormancy, pathogens, staining, starvation, therapeutics
Squalamine is a natural polycationic aminosterol extracted from the shark Squalus acanthias. Squalamine displays remarkable efficacy against antimicrobial-resistant Gram-negative and Gram-positive bacteria. Its membranolytic activity and low cytotoxicity make squalamine one of the most promising agents to fight nosocomial pathogens such as Acinetobacter baumannii. In the context of chronic diseases and therapeutic failures associated with this pathogen, the presence of dormant cells, i.e. persisters and viable but non-culturable cells (VBNCs), highly tolerant to antimicrobial compounds is problematic. The aim of this study was to investigate the antibacterial activity of squalamine against this bacterial population of A. baumannii. Bacterial dormancy was induced by cold shock and nutrient starvation in the presence of high doses of either colistin, ciprofloxacin or squalamine. Persisters and VBNCs induced by these treatments were then challenged with 100 mg/L squalamine. The efficacy of each treatment was determined by evaluating culturability on agar medium, membrane integrity (LIVE/DEAD®BacLightTM staining) and respiratory activity (BacLightTM RedoxSensorTM CTC staining) of bacteria. A. baumannii ATCC 17978 generated persisters as well as VBNCs in the presence of high doses of ciprofloxacin but not colistin or squalamine. Squalamine at 100 mg/L (below its haemolytic concentration) was able to kill dormant cells. Squalamine did not induce persister cell or VBNC formation in A. baumannii ATCC 17978. Interestingly, squalamine was significantly active against this type of dormant population generated by ciprofloxacin, making it a very promising anti-persister agent.