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PLoS One. 2012;7(7):e42103. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0042103. Epub 2012 Jul 24.

Synergy between vancomycin and nafcillin against Staphylococcus aureus in an in vitro pharmacokinetic/pharmacodynamic model.

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  • 1School of Pharmacy, Bouvé College of Health Sciences, Northeastern University, Boston, Massachusetts, United States of America.



Continued pressure from glycopeptide use has led to non-susceptible strains of Staphylococcus aureus including heterogeneously vancomycin-intermediate S. aureus (hVISA). Infections with hVISA are associated with poor patient outcomes, thus incentivizing novel treatments. Evidence suggests that vancomycin and anti-staphylococcal penicillin susceptibility are inversely related which indicates that the use of this combination may be particularly useful against methicillin-resistant S. aureus with reduced susceptibility to vancomycin, such as hVISA. The aim of this study was to evaluate the potential for synergy between vancomycin and nafcillin against hVISA.


Twenty-five hVISA strains were evaluated for vancomycin and nafcillin minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC) by broth microdilution in duplicate. Potential for synergy was assessed by time-kill at 1/2x MIC in triplicate. Five strains were chosen, representing the range nafcillin MIC's available in the cohort -4, 16, 64, 128, and 256 µg/mL, and were run in an in vitro pharmacokinetic/pharmacodynamic (PK/PD) model in duplicate over 72 hours to evaluate the potential of the combination with simulated human pharmacokinetics. In addition, 4 fully glycopeptide susceptible strains of S. aureus including 2 methicillin-susceptible (MSSA) and 2 methicillin-resistant (MRSA) were run in the PK/PD model for comparison.


In the time-kill, 92% of strains (23 of 25) displayed synergy with the combination of vancomycin and nafcillin. In the PK/PD model, all five strains of hVISA showed an improvement in overall activity (P≤0.004) and organism burden at 72 hours (P≤0.001) with the combination compared to either drug alone. The combination was also successful against both MRSA and MSSA in overall activity (P≤0.009) and organism burden at 72 hours (P≤0.016), though the magnitude of the effect was diminished against MSSA.


The combination of vancomycin and nafcillin significantly improved antibacterial activity against hVISA, MRSA, and MSSA compared to either drug alone.

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