Intracellular accumulation of novel and clinically used TB drugs potentiates intracellular synergy

Lloyd Tanner, Gabriel T. Mashabela, Charles C. Omollo, Timothy J. de Wet, Christopher J. Parkinson, Digby F. Warner, Richard K. Haynes, Lubbe Wiesner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The therapeutic repertoire for tuberculosis (TB) remains limited despite the existence of many TB drugs that are highly active in in vitro models and possess clinical utility. Underlying the lack of efficacy in vivo is the inability of TB drugs to penetrate microenvironments inhabited by the causative agent, Mycobacterium tuberculosis, including host alveolar macrophages. Here, we determined the ability of the phenoxazine PhX1 previously shown to be active against M. tuberculosis in vitro to differentially penetrate murine compartments, including plasma, epithelial lining fluid, and isolated epithelial lining fluid cells. We also investigated the extent of permeation into uninfected and M. tuberculosis-infected human macrophage-like Tamm-Horsfall protein 1 (THP-1) cells directly and by comparing to results obtained in vitro in synergy assays. Our data indicate that PhX1 (4,750 ± 127.2 ng/ml) penetrates more effectively into THP-1 cells than do the clinically used anti-TB agents, rifampin (3,050 ± 62.9 ng/ml), moxifloxacin (3,374 ± 48.7 ng/ml), bedaquiline (4,410 ± 190.9 ng/ml), and linezolid (770 ± 14.1 ng/ml). Compound efficacy in infected cells correlated with intracellular accumulation, reinforcing the perceived importance of intracellular penetration as a key drug property. Moreover, we detected synergies deriving from redox-stimulatory combinations of PhX1 or clofazimine with the novel prenylated amino-artemisinin WHN296. Finally, we used compound synergies to elucidate the relationship between compound intracellular accumulation and efficacy, with PhX1/WHN296 synergy levels shown to predict drug efficacy. Collectively, our data support the utility of the applied assays in identifying in vitro active compounds with the potential for clinical development. IMPORTANCE This study addresses the development of novel therapeutic compounds for the eventual treatment of drug-resistant tuberculosis. Tuberculosis continues to progress, with cases of Mycobacterium tuberculosis (M. tuberculosis) resistance to first-line medications increasing. We assess new combinations of drugs with both oxidant and redox properties coupled with a third partner drug, with the focus here being on the potentiation of M. tuberculosis-active combinations of compounds in the intracellular macrophage environment. Thus, we determined the ability of the phenoxazine PhX1, previously shown to be active against M. tuberculosis in vitro, to differentially penetrate murine compartments, including plasma, epithelial lining fluid, and isolated epithelial lining fluid cells. In addition, the extent of permeation into human macrophage-like THP-1 cells and H37Rv-infected THP-1 cells was measured via mass spectrometry and compared to in vitro two-dimensional synergy and subsequent intracellular efficacy. Collectively, our data indicate that development of new drugs will be facilitated using the methods described herein.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere00434-21
JournalMicrobiology spectrum
Volume9
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 29 Sep 2021

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