International Microbiology, Vol 18, No 1 (2015)

Phenothiazines as a solution for multidrug resistant tuberculosis: From the origin to present

Jette E. Kristiansen, Sujata G. Dastidar, Shauroseni Palchoudhuri, Debalina Sinha Roy, Sukhen Das, Oliver Hendricks, Jørn B. Christensen


Historically, multiplicity of actions in synthetic compounds is a rule rather than exception. The science of non-antibiotics evolved in this background. From the antimalarial and antitrypanosomial dye methylene blue, chemically similar compounds, the phenothiazines, were developed. The phenothiazines were first recognised for their antipsychotic properties, but soon after their antimicrobial functions came to be known and then such compounds were designated as non-antibiotics. The emergence of highly drug-resistant bacteria had initiated an urgent need to search for novel affordable compounds. Several phenothiazines awakened the interest among scientists to determine their antimycobacterial activity. Chlorpromazine, trifluoperazine, methdilazine and thioridazine were found to have distinct antitubercular action. Thioridazine took the lead as researchers repeatedly claimed its potentiality. Although thioridazine is known for its central nervous system and cardiotoxic side-effects, extensive and repeated in vitro and in vivo studies by several research groups revealed that a very small dose of thioridazine is required to kill tubercle bacilli inside macrophages in the lungs, where the bacteria try to remain and multiply silently. Such a small dose is devoid of its adverse side-effects. Recent studies have shown that the (–) thioridazine is a more active antimicrobial agent and devoid of the toxic side effects normally encountered. This review describes the possibilities of bringing down thioridazine and its (–) form to be combined with other antitubercular drugs to treat infections by drug-resistant strains of Mycobacterium tuberculosis and try to eradicate this deadly disease. [Int Microbiol 2015; 18(1):1-12]

Keywords: Mycobacterium tuberculosis · phenotiazines · thioridazine · tuberculosis

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