Dual Inhibition of Klebsiella pneumoniae and Pseudomonas aeruginosa Iron Metabolism Using Gallium Porphyrin and Gallium Nitrate

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14 Scopus citations


Iron- and heme-uptake pathways and metabolism are promising targets for the development of new antimicrobial agents, as their disruption would lead to nutritional iron starvation and inhibition of bacterial growth. Salts of gallium(III) (Ga), an iron mimetic metal, disrupt iron-dependent biological processes by binding iron-utilizing proteins and competing with iron for uptake by bacterial siderophore-mediated iron uptake systems. Ga porphyrins, heme mimetic complexes, disrupt heme-utilizing hemoproteins. Because Ga(NO3)3 and Ga porphyrin disrupt different pathways of bacterial ion acquisition and utilization, we hypothesized that if used in combination, they would result in enhanced antimicrobial activity. Antimicrobial activity of Ga porphyrins (Ga protoporphyrin, GaPP, or Ga mesoporphyrin, GaMP) alone and in combination with Ga(NO3)3 were evaluated against Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Klebsiella pneumoniae, Acinetobacter baumannii, and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) under iron-limited conditions. The Ga porphyrin/Ga(NO3)3 combination demonstrated substantial synergism against K. pneumoniae, P. aeruginosa, and MRSA. Time-kill assays revealed that the synergistic combination of GaPP/Ga(NO3)3 was bacteriostatic against K. pneumoniae and MRSA and bactericidal against P. aeruginosa. The GaPP/Ga(NO3)3 combination significantly disrupted K. pneumoniae and P. aeruginosa biofilms on plasma-coated surfaces and increased the survival of Caenorhabditis elegans infected with K. pneumoniae or P. aeruginosa. When assessing the antibacterial activity of the Ga(III)/antibiotic combinations, GaPP/colistin and Ga(NO3)3/colistin combinations also showed synergistic activity against K. pneumoniae and P. aeruginosa. Our results demonstrate that GaPP and Ga(NO3)3 have significant synergistic effects against several important human bacterial pathogens through dual inhibition of iron and heme metabolism.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1559-1569
Number of pages11
JournalACS infectious diseases
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 13 2019


  • ESKAPE pathogens
  • Klebsiella pneumonia
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa
  • dual inhibition
  • gallium complex
  • iron metabolism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Infectious Diseases


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