Evaluation of benzguinols as next-generation antibiotics for the treatment of multidrug-resistant bacterial infections

Hang Thi Nguyen, Mahmud T. Morshed, Daniel Vuong, Andrew Crombie, Ernest Lacey, Sanjay Garg, Hongfei Pi, Lucy Woolford, Henrietta Venter, Stephen W. Page, Andrew M. Piggott, Darren J. Trott*, Abiodun D. Ogunniyi*

*Corresponding author for this work

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Our recent focus on the “lost antibiotic” unguinol and related nidulin-family fungal natural products identified two semisynthetic derivatives, benzguinols A and B, with unexpected in vitro activity against Staphylococcus aureus isolates either susceptible or resistant to methicillin. Here, we show further activity of the benzguinols against methicillin-resistant isolates of the animal pathogen Staphylococcus pseudintermedius, with minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC) ranging 0.5–1 µg/mL. When combined with sub-inhibitory concentrations of colistin, the benzguinols demonstrated synergy against Gram-negative reference strains of Acinetobacter baumannii, Escherichia coli, Klebsiella pneumoniae, and Pseudomonas aeruginosa (MICs of 1–2 µg/mL in the presence of colistin), whereas the benzguinols alone had no activity. Administration of three intraperitoneal (IP) doses of 20 mg/kg benzguinol A or B to mice did not result in any obvious adverse clinical or pathological evidence of acute toxicity. Importantly, mice that received three 20 mg/kg IP doses of benzguinol A or B at 4 h intervals exhibited significantly reduced bacterial loads and longer survival times than vehicle-only treated mice in a bioluminescent S. aureus murine sepsis challenge model. We conclude that the benzguinols are potential candidates for further development for specific treatment of serious bacterial infections as both stand-alone antibiotics and in combination with existing antibiotic classes.

Original languageEnglish
Article number727
Pages (from-to)1-17
Number of pages17
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2021

Bibliographical note

Copyright the Author(s) 2021. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


  • Antimicrobial resistance
  • Benzguinols
  • Bioluminescent mouse model
  • Colistin
  • Cytotoxicity
  • Gram-negative
  • Minimum inhibitory concentration
  • Nidulins
  • Staphylococcus aureus
  • Staphylococcus pseudintermedius


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