Antibiotic-Induced Changes to the Host Metabolic Environment Inhibit Drug Efficacy and Alter Immune Function

Jason H. Yang, Prerna Bhargava, Douglas McCloskey, Ning Mao, Bernhard O. Palsson, James J. Collins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

155 Scopus citations


Bactericidal antibiotics alter microbial metabolism as part of their lethality and can damage mitochondria in mammalian cells. In addition, antibiotic susceptibility is sensitive to extracellular metabolites, but it remains unknown whether metabolites present at an infection site can affect either treatment efficacy or immune function. Here, we quantify local metabolic changes in the host microenvironment following antibiotic treatment for a peritoneal Escherichia coli infection. Antibiotic treatment elicits microbiome-independent changes in local metabolites, but not those distal to the infection site, by acting directly on host cells. The metabolites induced during treatment, such as AMP, reduce antibiotic efficacy and enhance phagocytic killing. Moreover, antibiotic treatment impairs immune function by inhibiting respiratory activity in immune cells. Collectively, these results highlight the immunomodulatory potential of antibiotics and reveal the local metabolic microenvironment to be an important determinant of infection resolution. Antibiotic susceptibility is sensitive to metabolites, but how this affects in vivo treatment efficacy remains unexplored. Yang, Bhargava et al. characterize antibiotic-induced changes to the metabolic environment during infection and find that direct actions of antibiotics on host cells induce metabolites that impair drug efficacy and enhance phagocytic activity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)757-765.e3
JournalCell Host and Microbe
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 13 2017
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Parasitology
  • Microbiology
  • Virology


  • LC-MS/MS
  • antibiotic
  • germ-free
  • immunomodulation
  • metabolic environment
  • metabolomics
  • phagocytosis
  • respiration
  • systems biology


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