Treatment strategies for central nervous system infections: An update

Ying Ching Tan, Arshdeep Kaur Gill, Kwang Sik Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Introduction: Central nervous system infection continues to be an important cause of mortality and morbidity worldwide. Our incomplete knowledge on the pathogenesis of how meningitis-causing pathogens cause CNS infection and emergence of antimicrobial resistance has contributed to the mortality and morbidity. An early empiric antibiotic treatment is critical for the management of patients with bacterial meningitis, but early recognition of bacterial meningitis continues to be a challenge. Areas covered: This review gives an overview on current therapeutic strategies for CNS infection with a focus on recent literature since 2010 on bacterial meningitis. Bacterial meningitis is a medical emergency, requiring early recognition and treatment. The selection of appropriate empiric antimicrobial regimen, after incorporating the epidemiology of bacterial meningitis, impact of vaccination, emergence of antimicrobial-resistant bacteria, role of adjunctive therapy and the current knowledge on the pathogenesis of meningitis and associated neuronal injury are covered. Expert opinion: Prompt treatment of bacterial meningitis with an appropriate antibiotic is essential. Optimal antimicrobial treatment of bacterial meningitis requires bactericidal agents able to penetrate the blood-brain barrier, with efficacy in cerebrospinal fluid. Emergence of CNS-infecting pathogens with resistance to conventional antibiotics has been increasingly recognized, but development of new antibiotics has been limited. More complete understanding of the microbial and host factors that are involved in the pathogenesis of bacterial meningitis and associated neurologic sequelae is likely to help in developing new strategies for the prevention and therapy of bacterial meningitis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)187-203
Number of pages17
JournalExpert opinion on pharmacotherapy
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2015


  • Antimicrobial resistance
  • Antimicrobial therapy
  • Bacterial meningitis
  • Blood-brain barrier
  • Cerebrospinal fluid
  • Dexamethasone
  • Escherichia coli
  • Group B streptococcus
  • Haemophilus influenzae type b
  • Listeria monocytogenes
  • Neisseria meningitidis
  • Neurologic sequelae
  • Streptococcus pneumoniae

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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