Methylene blue analogues: in vitro antimicrobial minimum inhibitory concentrations and in silico pharmacophore modelling
Bezuidenhout, Jaco J.
Petzer, Jacobus P.
Cloete, Theunis T.
MetadataShow full item record
It has been shown that methylene blue has antimicrobial properties although few studies have determined its minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC), which is the gold standard used to measure antimicrobial activity. The exact antimicrobial mode of action of methylene blue is still unclear and to our knowledge no pharmacophore model has yet been created to investigate methylene blue's mode of action. The aim of this study was to determine the MIC of methylene blue and a number of its analogous against Staphylococcus aureus, Staphylococcus epidermidis, Escherichia coli, Klebsiella pneumoniae, Salmonella enterica and Candida albicans, and to use these data to develop and validate a common feature pharmacophore model. Three statistical metrics, i.e. the enrichment factor (EF), hit rate (HR) and the area under the curve of a receiver operator characteristic (ROC-AUC), were used to determine the pharmacophore model's ability to differentiate between active/decoy compounds. The validated pharmacophore model was used to map similar antibacterial compounds in an attempt to elucidate methylene blue's antimicrobial mode of action. Most test compounds only had activity against S. aureus, S. epidermidis and K. pneumoniae. Dimethyl methylene blue, new methylene blue and acriflavine proved to be the most active compounds against S. aureus [1 µg/ml (dimethyl methylene blue); 4 µg/ml (new methylene blue); 8 µg/ml (acriflavine)], S. epidermidis [1 µg/ml (dimethyl methylene blue); 4 µg/ml (new methylene blue); 2 µg/ml (acriflavine)] and K. pneumoniae [8 µg/ml (dimethyl methylene blue); 0.5 µg/ml (new methylene blue); 2 µg/ml (acriflavine)]. A common feature pharmacophore model was created (rank score: 26.664, max. fit value: 4), which was able to accurately identify active methylene blue analogous out of the test set (EF2%: 51, HR2%: 100%, ROC-AUC: 1.00 ± 0.00). Six phenothiazine derivatives with known antibacterial activity had high fit values when mapped with the validated pharmacophore model, i.e. >3.4. Dimethyl methylene blue, new methylene blue and acriflavine had potent antibacterial activity against S. aureus, S. epidermidis and K. pneumoniae. The MIC data will allow other researchers to compare the activity across different laboratories. The common feature pharmacophore model was able to identify methylene blue analogous with known in vitro antibacterial activity out of a database containing active/decoy compounds and highlighted the importance of two hydrophobic features, an aromatic feature and a hydrogen bond acceptor. The validated pharmacophore model also correctly mapped six phenothiazine derivatives with known antibacterial activity suggesting that they may share a common antibacterial mechanism of action