Mitochondria-targeted antioxidants as highly effective antibiotics

Pavel A. Nazarov, Ilya A. Osterman, Artem V. Tokarchuk, Marina V. Karakozova, Galina A. Korshunova, Konstantin G. Lyamzaev, Maxim V. Skulachev, Elena A. Kotova, Vladimir P. Skulachev, Yuri N. Antonenko

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    39 Citations (Scopus)


    Mitochondria-targeted antioxidants are known to alleviate mitochondrial oxidative damage that is associated with a variety of diseases. Here, we showed that SkQ1, a decyltriphenyl phosphonium cation conjugated to a quinone moiety, exhibited strong antibacterial activity towards Gram-positive Bacillus subtilis, Mycobacterium sp. and Staphylococcus aureus and Gram-negative Photobacterium phosphoreum and Rhodobacter sphaeroides in submicromolar and micromolar concentrations. SkQ1 exhibited less antibiotic activity towards Escherichia coli due to the presence of the highly effective multidrug resistance pump AcrAB-TolC. E. coli mutants lacking AcrAB-TolC showed similar SkQ1 sensitivity, as B. subtilis. Lowering of the bacterial membrane potential by SkQ1 might be involved in the mechanism of its bactericidal action. No significant cytotoxic effect on mammalian cells was observed at bacteriotoxic concentrations of SkQ1. Therefore, SkQ1 may be effective in protection of the infected mammals by killing invading bacteria.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number1394
    JournalScientific Reports
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2017


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