Introduction - Mechanisms of action of antibiotics and synthetic anti-infective agents

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Chapter: Pharmaceutical Microbiology : Mechanisms of action of antibiotics and synthetic anti-infective agents

The antibiotics and synthetic anti-infective agents described in Chapter 11 are used to treat infections caused by bacteria, fungi and protozoa. Most exert a highly selective toxic action on their target microbial cells but have little or no toxicity towards mammalian cells.


MECHANISMS OF ACTION OF ANTIBIOTICS AND SYNTHETIC ANTI-INFECTIVE AGENTS

 

INTRODUCTION

 

The antibiotics and synthetic anti-infective agents described in Chapter 11 are used to treat infections caused by bacteria, fungi and protozoa. Most exert a highly selective toxic action on their target microbial cells but have little or no toxicity towards mammalian cells. They can therefore be administered at concentrations sufficient to kill or inhibit the growth of infecting organ-isms without damaging mammalian cells. By comparison, the disinfectants, antiseptics and preservatives described in Chapter 17 are too toxic for systemic treatment of infections. Figure 12.1 illustrates the five broad target areas of the major groups of antibiotics and synthetic agents used to treat microbial infections. Note that most of the agents are selective antibacterials; relatively few agents are available for treatment of fungal or protozoal infections. Study of the mechanism of action reveals the basis for the selective toxicity.

 

Figure 12.1 Schematic diagram of a typical bacterial cell showing the sites of action of the major classes of antibiotics and antimicrobial agents used to treat infections. Agents listed without brackets are used to treat bacterial infections. Agents used against mycobacterial, fungal or protozoal infections are indicated by the use of (), [] and {} brackets, respectively


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