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J Antimicrob Chemother. 2004 Mar;53(3):435-40. Epub 2004 Feb 4.

Anti-staphylococcal activity and mode of action of clofazimine.

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Department of Experimental Medicine, University of L'Aquila, Coppito-67100, L'Aquila, Italy.



Infections caused by Staphylococcus aureus might be treated with agents whose primary indications are for other infections. Clofazimine, an established anti-mycobacterial drug, could be such a candidate. However, the anti-staphylococcal properties of clofazimine have not been fully described and its mode of action, possibly involving inhibition of both RNA polymerase and a membrane-located target, has not been explored in detail. We have now conducted experiments to address these issues.


Using established procedures, we examined the activity of clofazimine against a range of clinical isolates of S. aureus and determined whether it was bactericidal, exhibited a post-antibiotic effect (PAE), or interacted synergically with other agents. The potential for emergence of clofazimine-resistant mutants was also examined. Mode of action studies involved macromolecular synthesis assays, cross-screening against rifampicin-resistant mutants, susceptibility of RNA polymerase to clofazimine in vitro and several methods to detect drug-induced membrane damage.


Clofazimine demonstrated good anti-staphylococcal activity encompassing MSSA, MRSA and GISA. It was bactericidal and resistant mutants could not be isolated. Clofazimine did not exhibit a PAE and failed to act synergically with other drugs. No evidence for specific inhibition of RNA polymerase was obtained. Clofazimine caused non-specific inhibition of DNA, RNA and protein synthesis, consistent with membrane-damaging activity that was detected in three independent assays for membrane disrupting agents.


Clofazimine is a potent anti-staphylococcal agent. It appears to be a membrane-disrupting agent and does not inhibit RNA polymerase.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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