Lyme disease is a leading vector-borne disease in the United States. Although the majority of Lyme patients can be cured with standard 2–4 week antibiotic treatment, 10%–20% of patients continue to suffer from prolonged post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome (PTLDS). While the cause for this is unclear, persisting organisms not killed by current Lyme antibiotics may be involved. In our previous study, we screened an FDA drug library and reported 27 top hits that showed high activity against Borrelia
persisters. In this study, we present the results of an additional 113 active hits that have higher activity against the stationary phase B. burgdorferi
than the currently used Lyme antibiotics. Many antimicrobial agents (antibiotics, antivirals, antifungals, anthelmintics or antiparasitics) used for treating other infections were found to have better activity than the current Lyme antibiotics. These include antibacterials such as rifamycins (3-formal-rifamycin, rifaximin, rifamycin SV), thiostrepton, quinolone drugs (sarafloxacin, clinafloxacin, tosufloxacin), and cell wall inhibitors carbenicillin, tazobactam, aztreonam; antifungal agents such as fluconazole, mepartricin, bifonazole, climbazole, oxiconazole, nystatin; antiviral agents zanamivir, nevirapine, tilorone; antimalarial agents artemisinin, methylene blue, and quidaldine blue; antihelmintic and antiparasitic agents toltrazuril, tartar emetic, potassium antimonyl tartrate trihydrate, oxantel, closantel, hycanthone, pyrimethamine, and tetramisole. Interestingly, drugs used for treating other non-infectious conditions including verteporfin, oltipraz, pyroglutamic acid, pidolic acid, and dextrorphan tartrate, that act on the glutathione/γ-glutamyl pathway involved in protection against free radical damage, and also the antidepressant drug indatraline, were found to have high activity against stationary phase B. burgdorferi.
Among the active hits, agents that affect cell membranes, energy production, and reactive oxygen species production are more active against the B. burgdorferi
persisters than the commonly used antibiotics that inhibit macromolecule biosynthesis. Future studies are needed to evaluate and optimize the promising active hits in drug combination studies in vitro
and also in vivo
in animal models. These studies may have implications for developing more effective treatments of Lyme disease.