Mechanism of Action
Levofloxacin is the L-isomer of the racemate, ofloxacin, a quinolone antimicrobial agent. The antibacterial activity of ofloxacin resides primarily in the L-isomer. The mechanism of action of levofloxacin and other fluoroquinolone antimicrobials involves inhibition of bacterial topoisomerase IV and DNA gyrase (both of which are type II topoisomerases), enzymes required for DNA replication, transcription, repair and recombination.
Mechanism of Resistance
Fluoroquinolone resistance can arise through mutations in defined regions of DNA gyrase or topoisomerase IV, termed the Quinolone-Resistance Determining Regions (QRDRs), or through altered efflux.
Fluoroquinolones, including levofloxacin, differ in chemical structure and mode of action from aminoglycosides, macrolides and β-lactam antibiotics, including penicillins. Fluoroquinolones may, therefore, be active against bacteria resistant to these antimicrobials.
Resistance to levofloxacin due to spontaneous mutation in vitro is a rare occurrence (range: 10-9 to 10-10). Cross‑resistance has been observed between levofloxacin and some other fluoroquinolones; some microorganisms resistant to other fluoroquinolones may be susceptible to levofloxacin.
Activity in vitro and in vivo
Levofloxacin has in vitro activity against Gram-negative and Gram-positive bacteria.
Levofloxacin has been shown to be active against most isolates of the following bacteria both in vitro and in clinical infections as described in INDICATIONS AND USAGE (1):
Staphylococcus aureus (methicillin-susceptible isolates)
Staphylococcus epidermidis (methicillin-susceptible isolates)
Streptococcus pneumoniae (including multi-drug resistant isolates [MDRSP])*
*MDRSP (Multi-drug resistant Streptococcus pneumoniae) isolates are isolates resistant to two or more of the following antibiotics: penicillin (MIC ≥ 2 mcg/mL), 2nd generation cephalosporins, e.g., cefuroxime; macrolides, tetracyclines and trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole.
The following in vitro data are available, but their clinical significance is unknown: Levofloxacin exhibits in vitro minimum inhibitory concentrations (MIC values) of 2 mcg/mL or less against most (≥ 90%) isolates of the following microorganisms; however, the safety and effectiveness of levofloxacin in treating clinical infections due to these bacteria have not been established in adequate and well-controlled clinical trials.
β-hemolytic Streptococcus (Group C/F)
β-hemolytic Streptococcus (Group G)
Viridans group streptococci
Anaerobic Gram-Positive Bacteria
Susceptibility TestsFor specific information regarding susceptibility test interpretive criteria and associated test methods and quality control standards recognized by FDA for this drug, please see: https://www.fda.gov/STIC.
In a lifetime bioassay in rats, levofloxacin exhibited no carcinogenic potential following daily dietary administration for 2 years; the highest dose (100 mg/kg/day) was 1.4 times the highest recommended human dose (750 mg) based upon relative body surface area. Levofloxacin did not shorten the time to tumor development of UV-induced skin tumors in hairless albino (Skh-1) mice at any levofloxacin dose level and was therefore not photo-carcinogenic under conditions of this study. Dermal levofloxacin concentrations in the hairless mice ranged from 25 to 42 mcg/g at the highest levofloxacin dose level (300 mg/kg/day) used in the photo-carcinogenicity study. By comparison, dermal levofloxacin concentrations in human subjects receiving 750 mg of levofloxacin averaged approximately 11.8 mcg/g at Cmax .
Levofloxacin was not mutagenic in the following assays: Ames bacterial mutation assay (S. typhimurium and E. coli) , CHO/HGPRT forward mutation assay, mouse micronucleus test, mouse dominant lethal test, rat unscheduled DNA synthesis assay, and the mouse sister chromatid exchange assay. It was positive in the in vitro chromosomal aberration (CHL cell line) and sister chromatid exchange (CHL/IU cell line) assays.
Levofloxacin caused no impairment of fertility or reproductive performance in rats at oral doses as high as 360 mg/kg/day, corresponding to 4.2 times the highest recommended human dose based upon relative body surface area and intravenous doses as high as 100 mg/kg/day, corresponding to 1.2 times the highest recommended human dose based upon relative body surface area.
Levofloxacin and other quinolones have been shown to cause arthropathy in immature animals of most species tested [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS (5.12)]. In immature dogs (4–5 months old), oral doses of 10 mg/kg/day for 7 days and intravenous doses of 4 mg/kg/day for 14 days of levofloxacin resulted in arthropathic lesions. Administration at oral doses of 300 mg/kg/day for 7 days and intravenous doses of 60 mg/kg/day for 4 weeks produced arthropathy in juvenile rats. Three-month old beagle dogs dosed orally with levofloxacin at 40 mg/kg/day exhibited clinically severe arthrotoxicity resulting in the termination of dosing at Day 8 of a 14-day dosing routine. Slight musculoskeletal clinical effects, in the absence of gross pathological or histopathological effects, resulted from the lowest dose level of 2.5 mg/kg/day (approximately 0.2-fold the pediatric dose based upon AUC comparisons). Synovitis and articular cartilage lesions were observed at the 10 and 40 mg/kg dose levels (approximately 0.7-fold and 2.4-fold the pediatric dose, respectively, based on AUC comparisons). Articular cartilage gross pathology and histopathology persisted to the end of the 18-week recovery period for those dogs from the 10 and 40 mg/kg/day dose levels.
When tested in a mouse ear swelling bioassay, levofloxacin exhibited phototoxicity similar in magnitude to ofloxacin, but less phototoxicity than other quinolones.
While crystalluria has been observed in some intravenous rat studies, urinary crystals are not formed in the bladder, being present only after micturition and are not associated with nephrotoxicity.
In mice, the CNS stimulatory effect of quinolones is enhanced by concomitant administration of non-steroidal anti‑inflammatory drugs.
In dogs, levofloxacin administered at 6 mg/kg or higher by rapid intravenous injection produced hypotensive effects. These effects were considered to be related to histamine release.
In vitro and in vivo studies in animals indicate that levofloxacin is neither an enzyme inducer nor inhibitor in the human therapeutic plasma concentration range; therefore, no drug metabolizing enzyme-related interactions with other drugs or agents are anticipated.
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