Aussie study finds common antidepressants can increase antibiotic resistance
A study led by the University of Queensland (UQ) suggested that a range of commonly prescribed antidepressants can increase bacteria's resistance to antibiotic medications.
Published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal on January 23, the study investigated the exposure of the bacteria Escherichia coli (E. coli) to the five commonly prescribed antidepressants at clinically relevant concentrations, including sertraline (Zoloft), escitalopram (Lexapro), bupropion (Welbutrin), duloxetine (Cymbalta) and agomelatine (Valdoxan).
Jianhua Guo, the senior author and professor from UQ, told Xinhua on Wednesday that by measuring the development of resistance to multiple antibiotics and evaluating bacterial persistence following exposure, they found E. coli bacteria develop increased resistance to multiple classes of antibiotics.
"All of the tested drugs are able to trigger the emergence of antibiotic resistance. Sertraline and duloxetine had the strongest impact on bacterial resistance to antibiotics among the drugs we tested," Guo said.
The expert noted that the potential reason for this circumstance could be the oxidative stress in bacteria posed by antidepressants, as the strong oxidative ability in these drugs can cause bacteria to generate some reactive oxygen species intracellularly, which is stress for bacteria growth.
As a result, this would lead bacteria in turn to activate their SOS responses and anti-oxidation response, he said.
"Although antidepressants have been consumed at an increased trend, little is known whether antidepressants could cause the spread of antibiotic resistance. Thus, our finding has changed our understanding of the spread of antibiotic resistance," said Guo.
Guo also called for more research to evaluate whether such drugs can affect the gut microbiomes of people taking them, and cause infection.