Send to

Choose Destination
Clin Infect Dis. 2006 Apr 15;42(8):1111-7. Epub 2006 Mar 13.

Linezolid-induced inhibition of mitochondrial protein synthesis.

Author information

Department of Internal Medicine, AZ Sint-Jan AV, Bruges, Belgium.



Linezolid is an oxazolidinone antibiotic that is increasingly used to treat drug-resistant, gram-positive pathogens. The mechanism of action is inhibition of bacterial protein synthesis. Optic and/or peripheral neuropathy and lactic acidosis are reported side effects, but the underlying pathophysiological mechanism has not been unravelled.


We studied mitochondrial ultrastructure, mitochondrial respiratory chain enzyme activity, and mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) in muscle, liver, and kidney samples obtained from a patient who developed optic neuropathy, encephalopathy, skeletal myopathy, lactic acidosis, and renal failure after prolonged use of linezolid. In addition, we evaluated mtDNA, respiratory chain enzyme activity, and protein amount in muscle and liver samples obtained from experimental animals that received linezolid or placebo.


In the patient, mitochondrial respiratory chain enzyme activity was decreased in affected tissues, without ultrastructural mitochondrial abnormalities and without mutations or depletion of mtDNA. In the experimental animals, linezolid induced a dose- and time-dependent decrease of the activity of respiratory chain complexes containing mtDNA-encoded subunits and a decreased amount of protein of these complexes, whereas the amount of mtDNA was normal.


These results provide direct evidence that linezolid inhibits mitochondrial protein synthesis with potentially severe clinical consequences. Prolonged courses of linezolid should be avoided if alternative treatment options are available.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Silverchair Information Systems
Loading ...
Support Center