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J Med Microbiol. 1995 May;42(5):362-6.

Post-antibiotic effect of azithromycin and erythromycin on streptococcal susceptibility to phagocytosis.

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  • 1Division of Microbiology, College of Pharmacy, King Saud University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.


The effect of azithromycin and erythromycin on growth, cell surface hydrophobicity and the susceptibility to the bactericidal activity of human polymorphonuclear leucocytes (PMNL) was examined in four Streptococcus species. Exposure to either 10 x MIC azithromycin or erythromycin induced a post-antibiotic effect (PAE) of between 2.4 and 4.3 h. Erythromycin caused a longer PAE for S. sanguis than azithromycin under the same conditions. The cell surface charge (hydrophobic or hydrophilic) of the streptococci was altered significantly during PAE; loss of hydrophobicity was induced by both macrolides, and this effect was variable amongst the species. The decrease in hydrophobicity was not related to inhibition of growth. The effect of each drug during PAE on the interaction of opsonised suspensions of the streptococci with human PMNL revealed that erythromycin, and to a lesser extent azithromycin, increased susceptibility to the bactericidal activity of human PMNL; this effect was abolished following PAE. The present study clearly showed that PAE should not only be considered as delayed bacterial growth, but also as modulation of bacterial susceptibility to phagocytosis which may influence the outcome of the host-parasite relationship.

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