The Naked Scientists

The Naked Scientists Forum

Author Topic: How do antibiotics work?  (Read 10397 times)

Offline tweener

  • Moderator
  • Neilep Level Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1144
    • View Profile
How do antibiotics work?
« on: 07/11/2003 05:37:57 »
I've been looking into antibiotics some this week, since I'm on one for a lung infection.  How do they work against bacteria?

Also, I've seen references to gram-negative bacteria and gram-positive bacteria and that most antibiotics work on gram-positive and only a little on gram-negative.  What is the difference between gram-positive and gram-negative?


----
John


 

Offline Quantumcat

  • The Kitty Down Under
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 894
    • View Profile
Re: How do antibiotics work?
« Reply #1 on: 07/11/2003 07:54:07 »
Cell wall synthesis inhibitors

Cell wall synthesis inhibitors generally inhibit some step in the synthesis of bacterial peptidoglycan. Generally they exert their selective toxicity against eubacteria because human cells lack cell walls.

Beta lactam antibiotics

Chemically, these antibiotics contain a 4-membered beta lactam ring. They are the products of two groups of fungi, Penicillium and Cephalosporium molds, and are correspondingly represented by the penicillins and cephalosporins. The beta lactam antibiotics inhibit the last step in peptidoglycan synthesis, the final cross-linking between between peptide side chains, mediated by bacterial carboxypeptidase and transpeptidase enzymes . Beta lactam antibiotics are normally bactericidal and require that cells be actively growing in order to exert their toxicity.

Natural penicillins, such as Penicillin G or Penicillin V, are produced by fermentation of Penicillium chrysogenum. They are effective against streptococcus, gonococcus and staphylococcus, except where resistance has developed. They are considered narrow spectrum since they are not effective against Gram-negative rods.

Semisynthetic penicillins first appeared in 1959. A mold produces the main part oif the molecule (6-aminopenicillanic acid) which can be modified chemically by the addition of side shains. Many of these compounds have been developed to have distinct benefits or advantages over penicillin G, such as increased spectrum of activity (effectiveness against Gram-negative rods), resistance to penicillinase, effectiveness when administered orally, etc. Amoxycillin and Ampicillin have broadened spectra against Gram-negatives and are effective orally; Methicillin is penicillinase-resistant.

Clavulanic acid is a chemical sometimes added to a semisynthetic penicillin preparation. Thus, amoxycillin plus clavulanate is clavamox or augmentin. The clavulanate is not an antimicrobial agent. It inhibits beta lactamase enzymes and has given extended life to penicillinase-sensitive beta lactams.

Although nontoxic, penicillins occasionally cause death when administered to persons who are allergic to them. In the U.S. there are 300 - 500 deaths annually due to penicillin allergy. In allergic individuals the beta lactam molecule attaches to a serum protein which initiates an IgE-mediated inflammatory response.

Cephalolsporins are beta lactam antibiotics with a similar mode of action to penicillins that are produced by species of Cephalosporium. The have a low toxicity and a somewhat broader spectrum than natural penicillins. They are often used as penicillin substitutes, against Gram-negative bacteria, and in surgical prophylaxis. They are subject to degradation by some bacterial beta-lactamases, but they tend to be resistant to beta-lactamases from S. aureus .

Bacitracin is a polypeptide antibiotic produced by Bacillus species. It prevents cell wall growth by inhibiting the release of the muropeptide subunits of peptidoglycan from the lipid carrier molecule that carries the subunit to the outside of the membrane Teichoic acid synthesis, which requires the same carrier, is also inhibited. Bacitracin has a high toxicity which precludes its systemic use. It is present in many topical antibiotic preparations, and since it is not absorbed by the gut, it is given to "sterilize" the bowel prior to surgery.

Cell membrane inhibitors disorganize the structure or inhibit the function of bacterial membranes. The integrity of the cytoplasmic and outer membranes is vital to bacteria, and compounds that disorganize the membranes rapidly kill the cells. However, due to the similarities in phospholipids in eubacterial and eukaryotic membranes, this action is rarely specific enough to permit these compounds to be used systemically. The only antibacterial antibiotic of clinical importance that acts by this mechanism is Polymyxin, produced by Bacillus polymyxis. Polymyxin is effective mainly against Gram-negative bacteria and is usually limited to topical usage. Polymyxins bind to membrane phospholipids and thereby interfere with membrane function. Polymyxin is occasionally given for urinary tract infections caused by Pseudomonas that are gentamicin, carbenicillin and tobramycin resistant.


Am I dead? Am I alive? I'm both!
 

Offline cuso4

  • Angel Delight
  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 422
    • View Profile
Re: How do antibiotics work?
« Reply #2 on: 07/11/2003 13:05:07 »
Great info, Quantum. This must have taken you ages to type.
Just one question: what's a "4-membered beta lactam ring"

Angel


"Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new." -Albert Einstein
 

Offline Quantumcat

  • The Kitty Down Under
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 894
    • View Profile
Re: How do antibiotics work?
« Reply #3 on: 08/11/2003 10:37:46 »
The 4 membered beta lactam ring is a chemical, part of the antibiotic. I found a picture, here: http://www.vet.purdue.edu/bms/courses/chmrx_incommon/structures/6-apa600.gif the four-membered beta lactam ring is the square.

Am I dead? Am I alive? I'm both!
 

Offline tweener

  • Moderator
  • Neilep Level Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1144
    • View Profile
Re: How do antibiotics work?
« Reply #4 on: 09/11/2003 03:21:05 »
Wow!  Thanks Quantum.  I might understand all that someday, but it's way too late tonight.


----
John
 

The Naked Scientists Forum

Re: How do antibiotics work?
« Reply #4 on: 09/11/2003 03:21:05 »

 

SMF 2.0.10 | SMF © 2015, Simple Machines
SMFAds for Free Forums