Cationic quaternized aminocalix[4]arenes: cytotoxicity, haemolytic and antibacterial activities

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Graphical abstractThis study reports the characterization of three cationic amphiphillic aminocalix[4]arenes as potential antimicrobial agents in vitro. In cytotoxicity tests on mouse macrophage RAW 264.7 cells aminocalix[4]arenes 1 and 3 showed no toxicity up to 200 and 100 μM concentrations, respectively, while 2 was non-toxic only up to 50 μM. With regard to the haemolytic activity on rabbit red blood cells, 1 was not active at concentrations up to 100 μM in contrast to the other two studied macrocycles. Compounds showed negligible ability to protect either mouse macrophage RAW 264.7 cells from anthrax lethal toxin of Bacillus anthracis (B. anthracis) or rabbit red blood cells from α-haemolysin of Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) in comparison to amino-β-cyclodextrins. However, all aminocalix[4]arenes showed potential as antimicrobials. Their minimum inhibitory concentrations (MIC) against Escherichia coli (E. coli) and S. aureus were in the 16–32 μg/ml concentration range, while minimum lethal concentrations (MLC) varied from 16 to 256 μg/ml depending on the bacteria and aminocalix[4]arene considered. Macrocycle 1 showed partial synergism against S. aureus in tandem with a model antibacterial drug, fusidic acid, at certain concentration combinations.

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