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Antibacterial Activity of Sulfamethoxazole Transformation Products (TPs): General Relevance for Sulfonamide TPs Modified at the para Position

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journal contribution
posted on 20.10.2014, 00:00 by Marius Majewsky, Danny Wagner, Markus Delay, Stefan Bräse, Viviane Yargeau, Harald Horn
Sulfonamide antibiotics undergo transformation in the aquatic environment through biodegradation, photolysis, or hydrolysis. In this study, the residual antibacterial activity of 11 transformation products (TPs) of sulfamethoxazole (SMX) was investigated with regard to their in vitro growth and luminescence inhibition on Vibrio fischeri (30 min and 24 h exposure). Two transformation products, 4-hydroxy-SMX and N4-hydroxy-acetyl-SMX, were synthesized in-house and confirmed by nuclear magnetic resonance and high-resolution mass spectrometry. Results of individual compound experiments showed that TPs modified at the para amino group still exhibit clear antibacterial effects, whereas TPs resulting from breakdown of the SMX structure lost this mechanism of action. 4-NO2- and 4-OH-SMX were found to inhibit growth to a clearly greater extent than the parent compound, SMX. In contrast, the N4-acetyl- and N4-hydroxy-acetyl-derivatives retain less than 10 and 5% of the effect of SMX on growth and luminescence inhibition, respectively. The effect of a mixture of para-modified TPs was observed to be additive. Considering the homologous series of sulfa drugs widely prescribed and their common mechanism of action, the potential environmental impact must consider the total amount of sulfonamide antibiotics and their derivative TPs, which might end up in a water body. Extrapolating the results obtained here for the para TPs of SMX to other sulfa drugs and determining the persistence and occurrence of these compounds in the aquatic environment is required for improved risk assessment.