Amphotericin B

Amphotericin B
File:Amphotericin B new.svg
File:Amphotericin b.png
Systematic (IUPAC) name
(1R,3S,5R,6R,9R, 11R,15S,16R,17R,18S,19E,21E, 23E,25E,27E,29E,31E,33R,35S,36R,37S)- 33-[(3-amino- 3,6-dideoxy- β-D-mannopyranosyl)oxy]- 1,3,5,6,9,11,17,37-octahydroxy- 15,16,18-trimethyl- 13-oxo- 14,39-dioxabicyclo [33.3.1] nonatriaconta- 19,21,23,25,27,29,31-heptaene- 36-carboxylic acid
Clinical data
Trade names Fungizone
AHFS/ monograph
  • US: B (No risk in non-human studies)
  • Rx-only, hospitalization recommended.
I.V. (slow infusion only) topical
Pharmacokinetic data
Bioavailability 100% (IV)
Metabolism renal
Half-life initial phase : 24 hours,
second phase : approx. 15 days
Excretion 40% found in urine after single cumulated over several days
biliar excretion also important
1397-89-3 7pxY
A01AB04 A07AA07, G01AA03, J02AA01
PubChem CID 14956
DrugBank DB00681 7pxY
ChemSpider 10237579 7pxY
KEGG D00203 7pxY
ChEBI CHEBI:2682 7pxY
ChEMBL CHEMBL267345 7pxY
NIAID ChemDB 000096
Chemical data
Formula C47H73NO17
 14pxY (what is this?)  (verify)

Amphotericin B (Fungilin, Fungizone, Abelcet, AmBisome, Fungisome, Amphocil, Amphotec) is an antifungal drug often used intravenously for systemic fungal infections.[1] It is the only effective treatment for some fungal infections.[1]

Common side effects may include: a reaction which may include fever, headaches and low blood pressure among other symptoms rapidly after it is given, and kidney problems.[1] Allergic symptoms including anaphylaxis may occur.[1]

It was originally extracted from Streptomyces nodosus, a filamentous bacterium, in 1955, at the Squibb Institute for Medical Research. Its name originates from the chemical's amphoteric properties. It is on the World Health Organization's List of Essential Medicines, a list of the most important medications needed in a basic health system.[2] It is of the polyene class. Currently, the drug is available as plain amphotericin B, as a cholesteryl sulfate complex (ABCD), as a lipid complex (ABLC), and as a liposomal formulation (LAmB). The latter formulations have been developed to improve tolerability, but may show considerably different pharmacokinetic characteristics compared to plain amphotericin B.[citation needed]

Medical uses


Oral preparations of amphotericin B are used to treat thrush; these are virtually nontoxic, in contrast to typical intravenous therapy (IV) doses.

One of the main intravenous uses is treating various systemic fungal infections (e.g. in critically ill, comorbidly infected, or immunocompromised patients), including cryptococcal meningitis.

Liposomal amphotericin B was effective as empirical therapy or as treatment for confirmed invasive fungal infections in several randomized, double-blind trials (n = 73−1095) in adult and pediatric patients.[3]


Another IV use is as a drug of last resort in otherwise-untreatable parasitic protozoan infections such as visceral leishmaniasis[4][5] and primary amoebic meningoencephalitis.

Spectrum of susceptibility

The following data show amphotericin B susceptibility on common fungal contaminants and medically significant fungi:

  • Candida albicans – 0.001–321 μg/ml
  • Candida krusei – 0.001–16 μg/ml
  • Coccidioides immitis – 0.0625–2 μg/ml
  • Cryptococcus neoformans – 0.2–39 μg/ml
  • Fusarium oxysporum – 0.75–125 μg/ml


Side effects

Amphotericin B is well known for its severe and potentially lethal side effects. Very often, a serious acute reaction after the infusion (1 to 3 hours later) is noted, consisting of high fever, shaking chills (leading to the medical slang term "shake and bake"),[7] hypotension, anorexia, nausea, vomiting, headache, dyspnea and tachypnea, drowsiness, and generalized weakness. This reaction sometimes subsides with later applications of the drug, and may in part be due to histamine liberation. An increase in prostaglandin synthesis may also play a role. This nearly universal febrile response necessitates a critical (and diagnostically difficult) professional determination as to whether the onset of high fever is a novel symptom of a fast-progressing disease, or merely the effect of the drug. To decrease the likelihood and severity of the symptoms, initial doses should be low, and increased slowly. Paracetamol, pethidine, diphenhydramine, and hydrocortisone have all been used to treat or prevent the syndrome, but the prophylactic use of these drugs is often limited by the patient's condition.

Intravenously administered amphotericin B in therapeutic doses has also been associated with multiple organ damage. Kidney damage is a frequently reported side effect, and can be severe and/or irreversible. It is much milder when delivered via liposomes (AmBisome), and this is, therefore, the preferred method. The integrity of the liposome is disrupted when it binds to the fungal cell wall, but is not affected by the mammalian cell membrane, thus less toxicity is seen.[8] The association with liposomes decreases the exposure of the kidneys to amphotericin B, which explains its less nephrotoxic effects.[9] In addition, electrolyte imbalances (e.g., hypokalemia and hypomagnesemia) may also result. In the liver, increased liver enzymes and hepatotoxicity (up to and including fulminant liver failure) are common. In the circulatory system, several forms of anemia and other blood dyscrasias (leukopenia, thrombopenia), serious cardiac arrhythmias (including ventricular fibrillation), and even frank cardiac failure have been reported. Skin reactions, including serious forms, are also possible.


  • Flucytosine: Toxicity of flucytosine is increased and allows a lower dose of amphotericin B. Amphotericin B may also facilitate entry of flucystosine into the fungal cell by interfering with the permeability of the fungal cell membrane.
  • Diuretics or cisplatin: Increased renal toxicity and increased risk of hypokalemia
  • Corticosteroids: Increased risk of hypokalemia
  • Cytostatic drugs: Increased risk of kidney damage, hypotension, and bronchospasms
  • Other nephrotoxic drugs (such as aminoglycosides): Increased risk of serious renal damage
  • Foscarnet, ganciclovir, tenofovir, adefovir: Risk of hematological and renal side effects of amphotericin B are increased
  • Transfusion of leukocytes: Risk of pulmonal (lung) damage occurs, space the intervals between the application of amphotericin B and the transfusion, and monitor pulmonary function

Mechanism of action

As with other polyene antifungals, amphotericin B binds with ergosterol, a component of fungal cell membranes, forming a transmembrane channel that leads to monovalent ion (K+, Na+, H+ and Cl) leakage, which is the primary effect leading to fungal cell death. Recently, however, researchers found evidence that pore formation is not necessarily linked to cell death.[10][11] The actual mechanism of action may be more complex and multifaceted.

Two amphotericins, amphotericin A and amphotericin B, are known, but only B is used clinically, because it is significantly more active in vivo. Amphotericin A is almost identical to amphotericin B (having a double C=C bond between the 27th and 28th carbons), but has little antifungal activity.[citation needed]

Mechanism of toxicity

Mammalian and fungal membranes both contain sterols, a primary membrane target for amphotericin B. Because mammalian and fungal membranes are similar in structure and composition, this is one mechanism by which amphotericin B causes cellular toxicity. Amphotericin B molecules can form pores in the host membrane as well as the fungal membrane. This impairment in membrane barrier function can have lethal effects.[11][12][13] Bacteria are not affected as their cell membranes do not contain sterols.

Amphotericin administration is limited by infusion-related toxicity. This is thought to result from innate immune production of proinflammatory cytokines.[12][14]

Liposomal and lipid complex preparations

From studies, it appears that liposomal amphotericin B preparations exhibit fewer side effects, while having similar efficacy. Various preparations have recently been introduced. All of these are more expensive than plain amphotericin B.

AmBisome is a liposomal formulation of amphotericin B for injection, developed by NeXstar Pharmaceuticals (acquired by Gilead Sciences in 1999). It is marketed by Gilead in Europe and licensed to Astellas Pharma (formerly Fujisawa Pharmaceuticals) for marketing in the USA, and Sumitomo Pharmaceuticals in Japan.

Fungisome is a liposomal complex of amphotericin B, and being the latest and cheapest addition to the lipid formulations of amphotericin B, it has many advantages. It is marketed by Lifecare Innovations of India. Other formulations include Amphotec (Intermune) and Abelcet (Sigma-Tau Pharmaceuticals). Abelcet is not a liposomal preparation, but rather a lipid complex preparation.

Oral preparations

A major barrier to the use of amphotericin in resource-poor settings is that it must be given intravenously (except for topical applications). An oral preparation exists, but is not yet commercially available.[15] The amphipathic nature of amphotericin along with its low solubility and permeability has posed major hurdles for oral administration. However, recently novel nanoparticulate drug delivery systems such as AmbiOnp,[16] nanosuspensions, lipid-based drug delivery systems including cochleates, self-emulsifying drug delivery systems,[17] solid lipid nanoparticles[18] and polymeric nanoparticles[19] have demonstrated great potential for oral formulation of amphotericin B.[20]


The natural route to synthesis includes polyketide synthase components.[21] The carbon chains of Amphotericin B are assembled from sixteen ‘C2’ acetate and three ‘C3’propionate units by polyketide synthases (PKSs). [22] Polyketide biosynthesis begins with the decarboxylative condensation of a dicarboxylic acid extender unit with a starter acyl unit to form a β-ketoacyl intermediate. The growing chain is constructed by a series of Claisen reactions. Within each module, the extender units are loaded onto the current ACP domain by acetyl transferase (AT). The ACP-bound elongation group reacts in a Claisen condensation with the KS-bound polyketide chain. Ketoreductase (KR), dehydratase (DH) and enoyl reductase (ER) enzymes may also be present to form alcohol, double bonds or single bonds. [23] After cyclisation, the macrolactone core undergoes further modification by hydroxylation, methylation and glycosylation. The order of these processes is unknown.

Biosynthesis of amphotericin B


It was originally extracted from Streptomyces nodosus, a filamentous bacterium, in 1955, at the Squibb Institute for Medical Research from cultures of an undescribed streptomycete isolated from the soil collected in the Orinoco River region of Venezuela


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 "Amphotericin B". The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists. Retrieved Jan 1, 2015. 
  2. "WHO Model List of EssentialMedicines" (PDF). World Health Organization. October 2013. Retrieved 22 April 2014. 
  3. Moen M,Lyseng-Wialliamson KA, Scott LJ.[1].Drugs 2009;69(3):361–392. doi:10.2165/00003495-200969030-00010.
  4. Kafetzis DA, Velissariou IM, Stabouli S, Mavrikou M, Delis D, Liapi G (January 2005). "Treatment of paediatric visceral leishmaniasis: amphotericin B or pentavalent antimony compounds?". Int. J. Antimicrob. Agents 25 (1): 26–30. PMID 15620822. doi:10.1016/j.ijantimicag.2004.09.011. 
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  7. MedBullets.Org - Amphotericin B
  8. Jill Adler-Moore,* and Richard T. liposomal formulation, structure, mechanism of action and pre-clinical experience. Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy (2002) 49, 21–30
  9. J. Czub, M. Baginski. Amphotericin B and Its New Derivatives Mode of action. Department of pharmaceutical Technology and Biochemistry. Faculty of Chemistry, Gdnsk University of Technology. 2009, 10-459-469.
  10. Angewandte Chemie Int. Ed. Engl. 2004[page needed]
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  13. Pfizer. Amphocin. Accessed at on Feb 18 2010.
  14. Drew, R. Pharmacology of amphotericin B. Uptodate. Sep 2009. Accessed at on Feb 18 2010.
  15. Wasan KM, Wasan EK, Gershkovich P et al. (2009). "Highly Effective oral amphotericin B formulation against murine visceral leishmaniasis". J Infect Dis 200 (3): 357–360. PMID 19545212. doi:10.1086/600105. 
  16. Patel, Pratikkumar A., and Vandana B. Patravale. "AmbiOnp: solid lipid nanoparticles of amphotericin B for oral administration." Journal of Biomedical Nanotechnology 7.5 (2011): 632-639.
  17. Wasan EK, Bartlett K, Gershkovich P, Sivak O, Banno B, Wong Z, Gagnon J, Gates B, Leon CG, Wasan KM. Development and characterization of oral lipid-based amphotericin B formulations with enhanced drug solubility, stability and antifungal activity in rats infected with Aspergillus fumigatus or Candida albicans. International Journal of Pharmaceutics. 2009; 372(1-2):76-84
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  23. Caffrey, Patrick; Lynch, Susan; Flood, Elizabeth; Finnan, Shirley; Oliynyk, Markiyan (2001). "Amphotericin biosynthesis in Streptomyces nodosus: deductions from analysis of polyketide synthase and late genes". Chemistry & biology 8 (7): 713–723. doi:10.1016/S1074-5521(01)00046-1. 

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