Cefixime (CFX) is a third-generation cephalosporin antibiotic that is widely used to treat Neisseria gonorrhoeae infection. Although some studies have reported the genotoxic and cytostatic/cytotoxic effects of cephalosporins, to the best of our knowledge, no studies have been performed on the genotoxic and cytotoxic effects of CFX in eukaryotic test systems. A global consensus about the genotoxicity of cephalosporins is still not feasible. Thus, the aim of the present study was to evaluate the potential genotoxic and cytostatic/cytotoxic effects of CFX in human peripheral blood lymphocytes. In this study, CFX did not induce chromosome aberrations (CAs) at 24- and 48-hr treatment periods. However, it was obvious that CFX induced more chromosomal-type breaks compared to the chromatid types at both the 24- and 48-hr treatments. No significant increase in the mean sister chromatid exchange (SCE) values was observed for the 24- and 48-hr treatment periods; however, the maximum SCE number showed an excessive increase in some lymphocytes at the 48-hr treatment. CFX did not induce micronucleus (MN) formation at both treatment times. However, CFX significantly decreased the proliferation index (PI) and mitotic index (MI) for both the 24- and 48-hr treatment periods. Furthermore, CFX caused a concentration-dependent decrease in the nuclear division index (NDI) for the 48-hr treatment (r = -0.979, P < 0.05). Our study showed that CFX was not genotoxic in cultured human peripheral lymphocytes. However, the excessive induction of SCEs in single cells is indicative of its mutagenic potential. In addition, the cytostatic/cytotoxic effects of CFX may have deleterious effects on the immune system, which may increase the susceptibility of the patient against bacterial infections.
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