The paper contains data on the induction of K+ efflux and viability of baby hamster kidney (BHK-21) cells after their treatment with macrolide antibiotics inducing specific pores in membrane. New water-soluble semisynthetic derivatives of amphotericin B and aureofacin (N-glycosyl and trimethylammonium methyl ester derivatives) as well as the parent compounds were used to compare the concentration of antibiotics inducing permeabilizing and cytostatic effects. We found that a two- to eight-times-higher concentration of polyene antibiotic was required to observe a cytostatic effect than for release of 50% of the cellular potassium (K50 concentration) from BHK-21 cells. These differences were larger for water-soluble derivatives than for the parent compounds. The amount of intracellular potassium in treated cells incubated under optimal growth conditions was higher than in cells which had been further washed with K+-free maintenance medium. The membrane permeability changes induced by low concentrations of specific polyenes were observed to be reversible. BHK-21 cells were able to repair polyene-induced membrane permeability within 3 to 12 h under optimal growth conditions, after cell treatment with K50 concentration of specific macrolide antibiotics. The repair phenomenon is postulated as an explanation for the dissociation observed between permeabilizing and cytostatic effect of specific polyenes in BHK-21 cells
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