Effect of the abscess environment on the antimicrobial activity of ciprofloxacin

Richard E. Bryant, Joyce A. Mazza

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27 Scopus citations


The present studies were conducted to identify factors in human purulent material that might limit or enhance the activity of ciprofloxacin against bacteria causing suppurative infection. Ciprofloxacin, imipenem, and ampicillin were tested with regard to binding or inactivation by pus. The bactericidal activity of ciprofloxacin and imipenem were tested against Escherichia coli, Klebsiella pneumoniae, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, or Staphylococcus aureus in human pus with a pH of 6.0 incubated at 37°C under aerobic or anaerobic conditions. The effect of single or combination drug therapy with 20 mg/kg of ciprofloxacin, imipenem, or rifampin given every 12 hours was tested against E. coli or P. aeruginosa in polymicrobic murine abscesses that had been produced by subcutaneous injection of either of those organisms mixed with Bacteroides fragilis and autoclaved human stool. Antibiotic levels and the number of bacteria surviving in pus were quantitated. Therapy of subcutaneous abscesses was delayed 72 hours to test drug efficacy against organisms in well-established infections. Levels of ampicillin, imipenem, or ciprofloxacin were reduced from 10 μg/ml to 3.1 ± 4.0, 2.7 ± 3, or 5.8 ± 2 μg/ml, respectively, after incubation in eight pus specimens for 24 hours at 37°C. Ampicillin levels were reduced to less than 1 μg/ml in four pus specimens containing beta-lactamase. Imipenem levels were undetectable in two specimens and were 0.2 μg/ml in one specimen. Ciprofloxacin binding to pus supernate or sediment appeared to be explained by its binding to the deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) present in pus. Activity of 5 μg/ml of ciprofloxacin against four E. coli or K. pneumoniae strains in pus in vitro was greater than that of twofold higher concentrations of imipenem. The bactericidal activity of ciprofloxacin and imipenem were comparable but substantially reduced against S. aureus and P. aeruginosa in pus. Ciprofloxacin alone or regimens combining ciprofloxacin with rifampin or rifampin plus imipenem reduced the number of E. coli in polymicrobic subcutaneous abscesses but had little effect on P. aeruginosa in polymicrobic abscesses. The anaerobic abscess milieu appeared to inhibit the growth of P. aeruginosa. Ciprofloxacin activity in abscess fluid did not appear to be adversely affected by acid pH, aerobic or anaerobic conditions of incubation, the abscess constituents, or the binding of ciprofloxacin to the DNA in pus. Ciprofloxacin was bound to DNA of bacterial or human origin. Binding by pus was reversible, and binding to DNA extracts of pus was blocked by pretreatment of extracts with deoxyribonuclease but not by pretreatment with ribonuclease. The ability of ciprofloxacin to kill organisms growing in the adverse conditions of the abscess milieu may contribute to its success as a chemotherapeutic agent for treatment of patients with suppurative infection.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)S23-S27
JournalThe American Journal of Medicine
Issue number5 SUPPL. 1
StatePublished - Nov 30 1989

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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