The emergence of antimicrobial resistance in Gram-negative bacteria poses a huge health challenge. The therapeutic use of polymyxins (i.e., colistin and polymyxin B) is commonplace due to high efficacy and limiting treatment options for multidrug-resistant Gram-negative bacterial infections. Nephrotoxicity and neurotoxicity are the major dose-limiting factors that limit the therapeutic window of polymyxins; nephrotoxicity is a complication in up to ~60% of patients. The emergence of polymyxin-resistant strains or polymyxin heteroresistance is also a limiting factor. These caveats have catalyzed the search for polymyxin combinations that synergistically kill polymyxin-susceptible and resistant organisms and/or minimize the unwanted side effects. Curcumin—an FDA-approved natural product—exerts many pharmacological activities. Recent studies showed that polymyxins–curcumin combinations showed a synergistically inhibitory effect on the growth of bacteria (e.g., Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria) in vitro. Moreover, curcumin co-administration ameliorated colistin-induced nephrotoxicity and neurotoxicity by inhibiting oxidative stress, mitochondrial dysfunction, inflammation and apoptosis. In this review, we summarize the current knowledge-base of polymyxins–curcumin combination therapy and discuss the underlying mechanisms. For the clinical translation of this combination to become a reality, further research is required to develop novel polymyxins–curcumin formulations with optimized pharmacokinetics and dosage regimens.
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