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Standardised in vitro susceptibility testing of Borrelia burgdorferi against well-known and newly developed antimicrobial agents–possible implications for new therapeutic approaches to Lyme disease.


Lyme disease represents a disorder of potentially chronic proportions, and relatively little is known about the in vivo pharmacodynamic interactions of antimicrobial agents with borreliae. So far, evidence-based drug regimens for the effective treatment of
Lyme disease have not been definitively established. Moreover, therapeutic failures have been reported for almost every suitable antimicrobial agent currently available. Resistance to treatment and a protracted course of the
disease, therefore, continue to pose problems for clinicians in the management of patients suffering from chronic
Lyme disease. Further characterisation of the antibiotic susceptibility pattern and a better understanding of the interactions of B. burgdorferi with antimicrobial agents are urgently needed and continue to be crucial owing to considerable differences in the experimental conditions and test methods applied. The development of easily performed, new techniques for the sensitivity testing of B. burgdorferi provides the opportunity to study factors affecting the bacteriostatic and bactericidal action of recently introduced chemotherapeutic agents under more standardised conditions. For the first time, these studies provide direct evidence that, in addition to beta-lactams, macrolides, and tetracyclines which are recommended for stage-dependent treatment of
Lyme borreliosis, other recently introduced substances, such as fluoroquinolones, everninomycins, and the ketolide family of antimicrobial agents, also show enhanced in vitro activity against borreliae. Some of these compounds, if effective in vivo as well, may prove to be useful agents in the treatment of certain manifestations of
Lyme disease. As such, their potential role should be evaluated further by in vivo experiments and clinical trials. Finally, these antimicrobial agents may turn out to be very effective therapeutic alternatives on account of their oral availability, favourable pharmacodynamic profiles, and high tissue levels in cases where beta-lactames or tetracyclines cannot be administered without detrimental side-effects.

Int J Med Microbiol. 2002 Jun;291 Suppl 33:125-37. Review [1]