Non-antibiotic medication linked to antibiotic resistance

Non-antibiotic medication linked to antibiotic resistance

Common non-antibiotic medications like anti-inflammatories and a lipid-lowering cholesterol drug can accelerate the spread of antibiotic resistance, according to new research from The University of Queensland (UQ).

As explained by UQ Associate Professor Jianhua Guo, non-antibiotic pharmaceuticals make up more than 95% of the drug market worldwide yet their effects on antibiotic resistance are largely unknown.

“When we think of antibiotic resistance, we often link it to the intensive use of antibiotics for medical, veterinary or agricultural purposes,” he said.

“We started wondering if non-antibiotic pharmaceuticals may also play a role in the spread of antibiotic resistance through bacterial transformation.

“Antibiotic resistance occurs and spreads when bacteria uptake free-living antibiotic resistance genes (ARGs) via bacterial transformation in response to the use of antibiotics.”

UQ researchers investigated if the same process linked to antibiotics also occurs with widely used non-antibiotic pharmaceuticals such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, which 30 million people worldwide consume daily. PhD student Yue Wang said the research team tested six commonly consumed non-antibiotic pharmaceuticals, with the results published in The ISME Journal.

“We did find nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories, a lipid-lowering drug and a β-blocker significantly promoted the bacterial transformation,” she said.

“Given the high consumption of non-antibiotic pharmaceuticals, our findings highlight a new concern that non-antibiotic pharmaceuticals can speed up the dissemination of antibiotic resistance.”

Assoc Prof Guo said the study broadens our view of antibiotic resistance and that further research is clearly needed.

“They are the iceberg of factors for promoting antibiotic resistance, and should not be ignored,” he said.

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