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BackgroundMycobacterium abscessus causes chronic pulmonary infections. Owing to its resistance to most classes of antibiotics, treatment is complex and cure rates are only 45%. Tigecycline is active against M. abscessus, but severe toxicity and the need for IV administration limit its use.ObjectivesTo assess the potential of inhaled tigecycline as a treatment for M. abscessus pulmonary disease, by measuring its efficacy in a mouse model of chronic M. abscessus pulmonary disease, establishing the intracellular activity of tigecycline against M. abscessus in human macrophages and measuring the activity of tigecycline in the sputum of cystic fibrosis patients.MethodsWe infected GM-CSF knockout mice with M. abscessus by intrapulmonary aerosol. Infected mice were treated with tigecycline in 0.25, 1.25 and 2.5 mg doses, by inhalation, or untreated, for 28 days. Tigecycline was added to human peripheral blood-derived macrophages infected with M. abscessus to assess its intracellular activity. We performed a time-kill kinetics experiment of tigecycline against M. abscessus with and without sputum of cystic fibrosis patients.ResultsInhaled tigecycline proved highly effective against M. abscessus in GM-CSF knockout mice. The effect was dose dependent. Tigecycline showed potent activity against M. abscessus in macrophages and retained most of its activity in the presence of sputum of cystic fibrosis patients.ConclusionsInhaled tigecycline may represent a viable treatment option for M. abscessus pulmonary disease, where treatment outcomes are currently very poor. A stable and safe formulation is required to proceed to further pharmacodynamic studies and ultimately clinical trials.

Original publication





The Journal of antimicrobial chemotherapy

Publication Date





1889 - 1894


Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Pathology, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523, USA.


Animals, Mice, Knockout, Humans, Mice, Lung Diseases, Anti-Bacterial Agents, Microbial Sensitivity Tests, Mycobacterium Infections, Nontuberculous, Mycobacterium abscessus, Tigecycline