Systematic analysis of drug combinations against Gram-positive bacteria

Cacace E, Kim V, Varik V, Knopp M, Tietgen M, Brauer-Nikonow A, Inecik K, Mateus A, Milanese A, Marli MT, Mitosch K, Selkrig J, Brochado AR, Kuipers OP, Kjos M, Zeller G, Savitski MM, Gottig S, Huber W, Typas A, Nat Microbiol 8 (11) :2196-2212 (2023).


Drug combinations can expand options for antibacterial therapies but have not been systematically tested in Gram-positive species. We profiled ~8,000 combinations of 65 antibacterial drugs against the model species Bacillus subtilis and two prominent pathogens, Staphylococcus aureus and Streptococcus pneumoniae. Thereby, we recapitulated previously known drug interactions, but also identified ten times more novel interactions in the pathogen S. aureus, including 150 synergies. We showed that two synergies were equally effective against multidrug-resistant S. aureus clinical isolates in vitro and in vivo. Interactions were largely species-specific and synergies were distinct from those of Gram-negative species, owing to cell surface and drug uptake differences. We also tested 2,728 combinations of 44 commonly prescribed non-antibiotic drugs with 62 drugs with antibacterial activity against S. aureus and identified numerous antagonisms that might compromise the efficacy of antimicrobial therapies. We identified even more synergies and showed that the anti-aggregant ticagrelor synergized with cationic antibiotics by modifying the surface charge of S. aureus. All data can be browsed in an interactive interface ( ).