Clofazimine has delayed antimicrobial activity against Mycobacterium tuberculosis both in vitro and in vivo

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Abstract

Objectives

The anti-leprosy drug clofazimine has been shown to have antimicrobial activity against Mycobacterium tuberculosis and has been associated with treatment-shortening activity in both clinical and preclinical studies of TB chemotherapy. However, a reported lack of early bactericidal activity (EBA) in TB patients has raised questions regarding the usefulness of clofazimine as an anti-TB drug. Our objective was to systematically evaluate the EBA of clofazimine in vitro and in vivo to provide insight into how and when this drug exerts its antimicrobial activity against M. tuberculosis.

Methods

We evaluated the 14 day EBA of clofazimine (i) in vitro at concentrations ranging from 4 times below to 4 times above the MIC for M. tuberculosis and (ii) in vivo in infected BALB/c mice at doses ranging from 1.5 to 100 mg/kg/day, and serum clofazimine levels were measured. In both experiments, isoniazid was used as the positive control.

Results

In vitro, clofazimine, at any concentration tested, did not exhibit bactericidal activity during the first week of exposure; however, in the second week, it exhibited concentration-dependent antimicrobial activity. In vivo, clofazimine, at any dose administered, did not exhibit bactericidal activity during the first week, and limited antimicrobial activity was observed during the second week of administration. While serum clofazimine levels were clearly dose dependent, the antimicrobial activity was not significantly related to the dose administered.

Conclusions

Our data suggest that clofazimine's delayed antimicrobial activity may be due more to its mechanism of action rather than to host-related factors.

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