Interaction Tolerance Detection Test for Understanding the Killing Efficacy of Directional Antibiotic Combinations

Jia Feng Liu, Orit Gefen, Zi Yin Zhang, Min Min Liu, Maskit Bar-Meir, Nathalie Q. Balaban

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Combination treatments are commonly prescribed for enhancing drug efficacy, as well as for preventing the evolution of resistance. The interaction between drugs is typically evaluated near the MIC, using growth rate as a measure of treatment efficacy. However, for infections in which the killing activity of the treatment is important, measurements far above the MIC are needed. In this regime, the killing rate often becomes weakly concentration dependent, and a different metric is needed to characterize drug interactions. We evaluate the interaction metric on killing using an easy visual assay, the interaction tolerance detection test (iTDtest), that estimates the survival of bacteria under antibiotic combinations. We identify antibiotic combinations that enable the eradication of tolerant bacteria. Furthermore, the visualization of the antibiotic interactions reveals directional drug interactions and enables predicting high-order combination outcomes, therefore facilitating the determination of optimal treatments. IMPORTANCE The killing efficacy of antibiotic combinations is rarely measured in the clinical setting. However, in cases where the treatment is required to kill the infecting organism and not merely arrest its growth, the information on the killing efficacy is important, especially when tolerant strains are implicated. Here, we report on an easy method for the determination of the killing efficacy of antibiotic combinations which enabled to reveal combinations effective against tolerant bacteria. The results could be generally used to guide antimicrobial therapy in life-threatening infections.

Original languageAmerican English
Article numbere00004
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Feb 2022


  • Antibiotic persistence
  • Antimicrobial activity
  • Antimicrobial agents
  • Antimicrobial combinations
  • Synergy
  • Tolerance

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Virology
  • Microbiology


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