Using temperature to fight antibiotic resistance

Impact of temperature on antibiotic resistance mutations.

Share

Follow us onFollow Tech Explorist on Google News

Researchers from the University of Groningen (the Netherlands) and colleagues from France and Germany studied how fever affects antimicrobial resistance. They found that a slight temperature increase from 37 to 40 degrees Celsius significantly increased mutation rates in E. coli bacteria.

This could promote antibiotic resistance. If confirmed in humans, controlling fever could be a new strategy to reduce the emergence of antibiotic resistance, addressing a major global health threat recognized by the WHO.

Previous studies mainly reduced temperature to study resistance mutations. Our study, however, increased temperatures slightly above average body levels,” Van Eldijk explained. With Eleanor Sheridan, they cultured E. coli at 37°C and 40°C and exposed them to three antibiotics: ciprofloxacin, rifampicin, and ampicillin. Unlike earlier trials, where drug types weren’t controlled, they meticulously chose antibiotics with varying modes of action for their experiments.

The study found that higher temperatures increased mutation rates towards resistance for ciprofloxacin and rifampicin but decreased it for ampicillin. They confirmed this by replicating the ampicillin study at two different labs, getting consistent results.

Image showing Colonies of the bacterium E. coli growing on an agar plate containing ciprofloxacin: these resistant colonies originate from mutants. On the left the resistant mutants originating from a population grown at 37 °C (normal body temperature), on the right resistant mutants originating from a population grown at 40 °C (fever temperature).
Colonies of the bacterium E. coli growing on an agar plate containing ciprofloxacin: these resistant colonies originate from mutants. On the left the resistant mutants originating from a population grown at 37 °C (normal body temperature), on the right resistant mutants originating from a population grown at 40 °C (fever temperature). credit: Eleanor Sheridan

The researchers suggested that temperature could affect ampicillin’s effectiveness, explaining why resistance is less likely at 40 degrees Celsius. This shows that even a slight temperature change can significantly alter how bacteria develop antibiotic resistance, which is notable since other factors, like growth rate, remained unchanged.

The study found that higher temperatures increased mutation rates towards resistance for ciprofloxacin and rifampicin but decreased it for ampicillin. They confirmed this by replicating the ampicillin study at two different labs, getting consistent results.

The researchers suggested that temperature could affect ampicillin’s effectiveness, explaining why resistance is less likely at 40 degrees Celsius. This shows that even a slight temperature change can significantly alter how bacteria develop antibiotic resistance, which is notable since other factors, like growth rate, remained unchanged.

These findings could lead to new ways to combat antimicrobial resistance if confirmed in humans. These might include using fever-reducing drugs to lower temperatures or administering antibiotics that work better at higher temperatures during fever. The team suggests that a tailored approach combining these strategies could be a powerful tool in fighting antibiotic resistance.

In conclusion, managing body temperature could be a novel strategy for fighting antibiotic resistance. We may enhance treatment efficacy by adjusting fever levels with medications or using antibiotics optimized for higher temperatures. This approach offers promising potential to combat antibiotic-resistant infections more effectively.

Journal reference:

  1. Timo J B Van Eldijk, Eleanor A Sheridan etal., Temperature dependence of the mutation rate towards antibiotic resistance.  JAC-Antimicrobial Resistance. DOI: 10.1093/jacamr/dlae085.

Trending