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Lesion Penetration and Activity Limit the Utility of Second-Line Injectable Agents in Pulmonary Tuberculosis


Amikacin and kanamycin are second-line injectables used in the treatment of multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) based on the clinical utility of streptomycin, another aminoglycoside and first-line anti-TB drug. While streptomycin was tested as a single agent in the first controlled TB clinical trial, introduction of amikacin and kanamycin into MDR-TB regimens was not preceded by randomized controlled trials. A recent large retrospective meta-analysis revealed that compared with regimens without any injectable drug, amikacin provided modest benefits, and kanamycin was associated with worse outcomes. Although their long-term use can cause irreversible ototoxicity, they remain part of MDR-TB regimens because they have a role in preventing emergence of resistance to other drugs. To quantify the contribution of amikacin and kanamycin to second-line regimens, we applied two-dimensional matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization (MALDI) mass spectrometry imaging in large lung lesions, quantified drug exposure in lung and in lesions of rabbits with active TB, and measured the concentrations required to kill or inhibit growth of the resident bacterial populations. Using these metrics, we applied site-of-action pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic (PK-PD) concepts and simulated drug coverage in patients' lung lesions. The results provide a pharmacological explanation for the limited clinical utility of both agents and reveal better PK-PD lesion coverage for amikacin than kanamycin, consistent with retrospective data of contribution to treatment success. Together with recent mechanistic studies dissecting antibacterial activity from aminoglycoside ototoxicity, the limited but rapid penetration of streptomycin, amikacin, and kanamycin to the sites of TB disease supports the development of analogs with improved efficacy and tolerability.

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