Host bioenergetic parameters reveal cytotoxicity of antituberculosis drugs undetected using conventional viability assays

Academic Article


  • High attrition rates in tuberculosis (TB) drug development have been largely attributed to safety, which is likely due to the use of endpoint assays measuring cell viability to detect drug cytotoxicity. In drug development for cancer, metabolic, and neurological disorders and for antibiotics, cytotoxicity is increasingly being assessed using extracellular flux (XF) analysis, which measures cellular bioenergetic metabolism in real time. Here, we adopt the XF platform to investigate the cytotoxicity of drugs currently used in TB treatment on the bioenergetic metabolism of HepG2 cells, THP-1 macrophages, and human monocyte-derived macrophages (hMDMs). We found that the XF analysis reveals earlier drug-induced effects on the cells' bioenergetic metabolism prior to cell death, measured by conventional viability assays. Furthermore, each cell type has a distinct response to drug treatment, suggesting that more than one cell type should be considered to examine cytotoxicity in TB drug development. Interestingly, chemically unrelated drugs with different modes of action on Mycobacterium tuberculosis have similar effects on the bioenergetic parameters of the cells, thus discouraging the prediction of potential cytotoxicity based on chemical structure and mode of action of new chemical entities. The clustering of the drug-induced effects on the hMDM bioenergetic parameters are reflected in the clustering of the effects of the drugs on cytokine production in hMDMs, demonstrating concurrence between the effects of the drugs on the metabolism and functioning of the macrophages. These findings can be used as a benchmark to establish XF analysis as a new tool to assay cytotoxicity in TB drug development.
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    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Cumming BM; Baig Z; Addicott KW; Chen D; Steyn AJC
  • Volume

  • 65
  • Issue

  • 10