Researchers have claimed that certain antidepressants could possibly be used to treat a wide range of diseases caused by bacteria living within cells.
The study published in the journal Life Science Alliance showed that antidepressant drugs called FIASMAs, including desipramine, amitriptyline, and nortriptyline, halt the growth or kill four different intracellular bacterial pathogens in tissue cell culture and animal models.
“Antibiotic options for diseases caused by intracellular bacteria are limited because many of these drugs cannot penetrate our cell membranes. In essence, the bacteria are protected,” said Jason Carlyon, lead researcher of the study.
Tetracycline antibiotics are most commonly prescribed to treat intracellular bacterial infections because they can cross cell membranes to reach the microbes.
However, tetracyclines can cause allergic reactions in some patients and physicians advise against their use by pregnant women and children due to undesirable side effects. Additionally, antibiotic resistance in some intracellular bacteria has been reported.
“It would be highly beneficial to have a class of drugs to treat such diseases in patients for whom tetracyclines are contraindicated,” Carlyon said.