Lopinavir and ritonavir act synergistically with azoles against Candida auris in vitro and in a mouse model of disseminated candidiasis


Introduction and Objectives: The emergence of Candida auris has created a global health challenge. Azole antifungals are the most affected antifungal class because of the extraordinary capability of C. auris to develop resistance against these drugs. Here, we used a combinatorial therapeutic approach to sensitize C. auris to azole antifungals. Methods and Results: We have demonstrated the capability of the HIV protease inhibitors lopinavir and ritonavir, at clinically relevant concentrations, to be used with azole antifungals to treat C. auris infections both in vitro and in vivo. Both lopinavir and ritonavir exhibited potent synergistic interactions with the azole antifungals, particularly with itraconazole against 24/24 (100%) and 31/34 (91%) of tested C. auris isolates, respectively. Furthermore, ritonavir significantly interfered with the fungal efflux pump, resulting in a significant increase in Nile red fluorescence by 44%. In a mouse model of C. auris systemic infection, ritonavir boosted the activity of lopinavir to work synergistically with fluconazole and itraconazole and significantly reduced the kidney fungal burden by a 1.2 log (∼94%) and 1.6 log (∼97%) CFU, respectively. Conclusion: Our results urge further comprehensive assessment of azoles and HIV protease inhibitors as a novel drug regimen for the treatment of serious invasive C. auris infections.

HIV protease inhibitors, Candida auris, Checkerboard assay, Azole resistance, In vivo infection model