Antimicrobial and anthelmintic activities of aryl urea agents

Pedro Ernesto de Resende, Jaroslav Nisler, Jiří Voller, Alena Kadlecová, Simon Gibbons

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Objectives: This study aimed to characterise compounds with activity against carbapenemase-expressing Gram-negative bacteria and nematodes and evaluate their cytotoxicity to non-cancerous human cells. Methods: The antimicrobial activity and toxicity of a series of phenyl-substituted urea derivatives were evaluated using broth microdilution, chitinase, and resazurin reduction assays. Results: The effects of different substitutions present on the nitrogen atoms of the urea backbone were investigated. Several compounds were active against Staphylococcus aureus and Escherichia coli control strains. Specifically, derivatives 7b, 11b, and 67d exhibited antimicrobial activity against Klebsiella pneumoniae 16, a carbapenemase-producing Enterobacteriaceae species, with minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC) values of 100, 50, and 72 µM (32, 64, and 32 mg/L), respectively. In addition, the MICs obtained against a multidrug-resistant E. coli strain were 100, 50, and 36 µM (32, 16, and 16 mg/L) for the same compounds, respectively. Furthermore, the urea derivatives 18b, 29b, 50c, 51c, 52c, 55c–59c, and 62c were very active towards the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans. Conclusions: Testing on non-cancerous human cell lines suggested that some of the compounds have the potential to affect bacteria, especially helminths, with limited cytotoxicity to humans. Given the simplicity of synthesis for this class of compounds and their potency against Gram-negative, carbapenemase-expressing K. pneumoniae, aryl ureas possessing the 3,5-dichloro-phenyl group certainly warrant further investigation to exploit their selectivity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)114-119
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Global Antimicrobial Resistance
Early online date10 Mar 2023
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2023


  • Anthelmintic
  • Antibacterial
  • Aryl urea
  • Caenorhabditis elegans
  • Carbapenemase

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