Toxicity of Antibiotics

Posted on November 1, 2019

Antibiotics can be seen as a lifesaver in many circumstances and a great post-surgery medication to reduce instances of infection and other issues. Without these medications, many conditions would have not been able to be eliminated. However, it is equally known that antibiotics can have toxic effects on users. There are various types of antibiotics out there, and they induce different degrees of harm. The ones that are connected to toxicity are aminoglycosides, carbapenems, antituberculosis agents, and tetracyclines (Anderson, L). We will explore these antibiotics in the following paragraphs.


These are natural or semisynthetic antibiotics. In terms of history, they are one of the first antibiotics to be used in clinics. Because of this, there has been a lot of research and trails on how to reduce the toxicity of this variant. Through larger doses, daily usage, and inhalation, a decrease in the toxicity of aminoglycosides can be observed (Krause, Kevin M, et al.).


This type of antibiotic medicine covers a wide range of bacteria and is often used as a last resort. However, with this power comes a chance for toxicity in various organisms. According to the review Carbapenems: Past, Present, and Future, “Nephrotoxicity, neurotoxicity, and immunomodulation have been reported with the use of carbapenems, and thus predisposing factors should be considered when administering any carbapenem. In addition, the use of carbapenems can alter the intestinal microflora and select for carbapenem-resistant isolates” (Papp-Wallace, Krisztina M, et al.). However, there is now an ongoing scientific search for ways to secure that these issues do not arise in patients and that this antibiotic is not blocked by multidrug-resistant pathogens.

Antituberculosis agents

Obviously, these are antibiotics that focus on eliminating tuberculous. Most of these agents have issues with being hepatotoxic, or destructive for liver cells. In fact, this is the main worry among a wide variety of antibiotics. Overdosing on these agents can bring about drug-induced hepatitis. Therefore, if adverse reactions to these antibiotics are noticed, one needs to go through immediate therapy, and either refrain from taking them or reduce the dose significantly (Abdo, Marcos, et al.).


Technically, these antibiotics decrease cell growth and are composed of four hydrocarbon rings. They are successful against microorganisms such as gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria, mycoplasmas, rickettsiae, chlamydiae, and protozoan parasites. They are short-acting and popular, but recently microorganisms have become more and more resistant to its effects. On the side toxicity, they are fairly safe to use, though they have shown to be cytotoxic (damaging to cells) and phototoxic (skin irritation). However, the strength of the toxic nature of the drug is related to its structural variety (Fuoco, Domenico).

As outlined, different types of antibiotics have separate cases and levels of toxicity when concerning human patients. These range from tetracyclines, which are perhaps the safest to employ, while carbapenems are harsher on the organism. Knowing which antibiotics to use for each condition and how concurrently taken medicines interact with these drugs is valuable as a doctor, scientist, and even a person who wants to understand his or her own medical state better.

Works Cited
Anderson, L. “Common Side Effects from Antibiotics, and Allergies and Reactions.”,
Krause, Kevin M, et al. “Aminoglycosides: An Overview.” Cold Spring Harbor Perspectives in Medicine, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press,
Papp-Wallace, Krisztina M, et al. “Carbapenems: Past, Present, and Future.” Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, American Society for Microbiology, Nov. 2011,
Abdo, Marcos, et al. “Antituberculosis Drugs: Drug Interactions, Adverse Effects, and Use in Special Situations – Part 1: First-Line Drugs.” Jornal Brasileiro De Pneumologia, Sociedade Brasileira De Pneumologia e Tisiologia,
Fuoco, Domenico. “Cytotoxicity Induced by Tetracyclines via Protein Photooxidation.” Advances in Toxicology, Hindawi, 24 Mar. 2015,

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