Repurposing the anticancer drug mitomycin C for the treatment of persistent Acinetobacter baumannii infections

Martha Yumiko Cruz-Muñiz, Luis Esau López-Jacome, Melissa Hernández-Durán, Rafael Franco-Cendejas, Paula Licona-Limón, Jose Luis Ramos-Balderas, Mariano Martinéz-Vázquez, Javier A. Belmont-Díaz, Thomas K. Wood, Rodolfo García-Contreras

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46 Scopus citations


Acinetobacter baumannii is an emergent opportunistic bacterial pathogen responsible for recalcitrant infections owing to its high intrinsic tolerance to most antibiotics; therefore, suitable strategies to treat these infections are needed. One plausible approach is the repurposing of drugs that are already in use. Among them, anticancer drugs may be especially useful due their cytotoxic activities and ample similarities between bacterial infections and growing tumours. In this work, the effectiveness of four anticancer drugs on the growth of A. baumannii ATTC BAA-747 was evaluated, including the antimetabolite 5-fluorouracil and three DNA crosslinkers, namely cisplatin, mitomycin C (MMC) and merphalan. MMC was the most effective drug, having a minimum inhibitory concentration for 50% of growth in Luria–Bertani medium at ca. 7 µg/mL and completely inhibiting growth at 25 µg/mL. Hence, MMC was tested against a panel of 21 clinical isolates, including 18 multidrug-resistant (MDR) isolates, 3 of which were sensitive only to colistin. The minimum inhibitory concentrations and minimum bactericidal concentrations of MMC in all tested strains were found to be similar to those of A. baumannii ATCC BAA-747, and MMC also effectively killed stationary-phase, persister and biofilm cells. Moreover, MMC was able to increase survival of the insect larvae Galleria mellonella against an otherwise lethal A. baumannii infection from 0% to ≥53% for the antibiotic-sensitive A. baumannii ATCC BAA-747 strain and the MDR strains A560 and A578. Therefore, MMC is highly effective at killing the emergent opportunistic pathogen A. baumannii.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)88-92
Number of pages5
JournalInternational Journal of Antimicrobial Agents
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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