Antibiotic tolerance and persistence are often associated with treatment failure and relapse, yet are poorly characterized. In distinction from resistance, which is measured using the minimum inhibitory concentration metric, tolerance and persistence values are not currently evaluated in the clinical setting, and so are overlooked when a course of treatment is prescribed. In this article, we introduce a metric and an automated experimental framework for measuring tolerance and persistence. The tolerance metric is the minimum duration for killing 99% of the population, MDK99, which can be evaluated by a statistical analysis of measurements performed manually or using a robotic system. We demonstrate the technique on strains of Escherichia coli with various tolerance levels. We hope that this, to our knowledge, new approach will be used, along with the existing minimum inhibitory concentration, as a standard for the in vitro characterization of sensitivity to antimicrobials. Quantification of tolerance and persistence may provide vital information in healthcare, and aid research in the field.
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© 2017 Biophysical Society