Reaction kinetic models of antibiotic heteroresistance

Antal Martinecz, Fabrizio Clarelli, Sören Abel, Pia Abel Zur Wiesch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Bacterial heteroresistance (i.e., the co-existence of several subpopulations with different antibiotic susceptibilities) can delay the clearance of bacteria even with long antibiotic exposure. Some proposed mechanisms have been successfully described with mathematical models of drug-target binding where the mechanism’s downstream of drug-target binding are not explicitly modeled and subsumed in an empirical function, connecting target occupancy to antibiotic action. However, with current approaches it is difficult to model mechanisms that involve multi-step reactions that lead to bacterial killing. Here, we have a dual aim: first, to establish pharmacodynamic models that include multi-step reaction pathways, and second, to model heteroresistance and investigate which molecular heterogeneities can lead to delayed bacterial killing. We show that simulations based on Gillespie algorithms, which have been employed to model reaction kinetics for decades, can be useful tools to model antibiotic action via multi-step reactions. We highlight the strengths and weaknesses of current models and Gillespie simulations. Finally, we show that in our models, slight normally distributed variances in the rates of any event leading to bacterial death can (depending on parameter choices) lead to delayed bacterial killing (i.e., heteroresistance). This means that a slowly declining residual bacterial population due to heteroresistance is most likely the default scenario and should be taken into account when planning treatment length.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number3965
JournalInternational journal of molecular sciences
Issue number16
StatePublished - Aug 2 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Catalysis
  • Molecular Biology
  • Spectroscopy
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Inorganic Chemistry


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