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Antimicrob Agents Chemother. 2002 Mar;46(3):702-7.

Comparison of fractional inhibitory concentration index with response surface modeling for characterization of in vitro interaction of antifungals against itraconazole-susceptible and -resistant Aspergillus fumigatus isolates.

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Department of Medical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases, Canisius Wilhelmina Hospital, Nijmegen, The Netherlands.


Although the fractional inhibitory concentration (FIC) index is most frequently used to define or to describe drug interactions, it has some important disadvantages when used for drugs against filamentous fungi. This includes observer bias in the determination of the MIC and no agreement on the endpoints (MIC-0, MIC-1, or MIC-2 [> or = 95, > or = 75, and > or = 50% growth inhibition, respectively]) when studying drug combinations. Furthermore, statistical analysis and comparisons are troublesome. The use of a spectrophotometric method to determine the effect of drug combinations yields quantitative data and permits the use of model fits to the whole response surface. We applied the response surface model described by Greco et al. (W. R. Greco, G. Bravo, and J. C. Parsons, Pharmacol. Rev. 47:331-385, 1995) to determine the interaction coefficient alpha (ICalpha) using a program developed for that purpose and compared the results with FIC indices. The susceptibilities of amphotericin B (AM), itraconazole (IT), and terbinafine (TB) were tested either alone or in combination against 10 IT-susceptible (IT-S) and 5 IT-resistant (IT-R) clinical strains of Aspergillus fumigatus using a modified checkerboard microdilution method that employs the dye MTT [3-(4,5-dimethyl-2-thiazyl)2,5-diphenyl-2H-tetrazolium bromide]. Growth in each well was determined by a spectrophotometer. FIC indices were determined and ICalpha values were estimated for each organism strain combination, and the latter included error estimates. Depending on the MIC endpoint used, the FIC index ranged from 1.016 to 2.077 for AM-IT, from 0.544 to 1.767 for AM-TB, and from 0.656 to 0.740 for IT-TB for the IT-S strains. For the IT-R strains the FIC index ranged from 0.308 to 1.767 for AM-IT, from 0.512 to 1.646 for AM-TB, and from 0.403 to 0.497 for IT-TB. The results indicate that the degree of interaction is not only determined by the agents themselves but also by the choice of the endpoint. Estimates of the ICalpha values showed more consistent results. Although the absolute FIC indices were difficult to interpret, there was a good correlation with the results obtained using the ICalpha values. The combination of AM with either IT or TB was antagonistic in vitro, whereas the combination of IT and TB was synergistic in vitro for both IT-S and IT-R strains. The use of response surface modeling to determine the interaction of drugs against filamentous fungi is promising, and more consistent results are obtained by this method than by using FIC indices.

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