Fighting bacterial persistence: Current and emerging anti-persister strategies and therapeutics

Published on May 1, 2018in Drug Resistance Updates11
· DOI :10.1016/J.DRUP.2018.03.002
Valerie Defraine6
Estimated H-index: 6
(Katholieke Universiteit Leuven),
Maarten Fauvart28
Estimated H-index: 28
(Katholieke Universiteit Leuven),
Jan Michiels54
Estimated H-index: 54
(Katholieke Universiteit Leuven)
Abstract In addition to the well-known strategies of antibiotic resistance and biofilm formation, bacterial populations possess an additional survival strategy to endure hostile environments or antibiotic exposure. A small fraction of transiently antibiotic-tolerant phenotypical variants, called persister cells, is capable of surviving treatment with high doses of antibiotics. When antibiotic pressure drops, persisters that switch back to a normal phenotype can resume growth, ensuring survival of the bacterial population. Persister cells have been identified in every major pathogen, contribute to the antibiotic tolerance observed in biofilms, and are responsible for the recalcitrant nature of chronic infections. Also, evidence is accumulating that persister cells can contribute to the emergence of antibiotic resistance. Consequently, effective treatment of persister cells could greatly improve patient outcome. The small number of persisters and the redundancy in mechanisms of persister formation impede target-based development of anti-persister therapies. Nonetheless, the armory of anti-persister molecules is increasing. This review presents a comprehensive overview of anti-persister molecules and strategies described in literature to date and offers perspectives on potential anti-persistence targets and methods for the development of future therapies. Furthermore, we highlight in vivo model systems for pre-clinical testing and summarize ongoing clinical trials of candidate anti-persister therapeutics.
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