Clindamycin: a lincosamide antibiotic

#Clindamycin antibiotic drug lincosamide class molecule Skeletal formula

Clindamycin is a lincosamide antibiotic that is used to treat a wide variety of bacterial infections. It is particularly effective against certain types of Gram-positive bacteria and anaerobic bacteria. Below is a detailed analysis of the pharmacology of clindamycin along with recent updates regarding its usage and resistance patterns:

Mechanism of Action

Clindamycin operates by inhibiting bacterial protein synthesis. It achieves this by binding to the 50S subunit of the bacterial ribosome, thus preventing the elongation of the peptide chain during translation. Interestingly, clindamycin is known to potentiate the opsonization and phagocytosis of bacteria even at subinhibitory concentrations, contributing to its antimicrobial activity​1​.

Approved Uses:

The US Food and Drug Administration has approved clindamycin for the treatment of anaerobic, streptococcal, and staphylococcal infections​2​.


Clindamycin is indicated for the treatment of numerous infections including but not limited to:

  • Septicemia
  • Intra-abdominal infections
  • Lower respiratory infections
  • Gynecological infections
  • Bone and joint infections
  • Skin and skin structure infections Furthermore, it’s also used in the treatment of streptococcal pharyngitis, acne vulgaris, bacterial vaginosis, and severe pelvic inflammatory disease among others​3​.

Clinical Uses

  • Skin and Soft Tissue Infections: Including acne and cellulitis.
  • Respiratory Tract Infections: Such as pneumonia and bronchitis.
  • Intra-Abdominal Infections
  • Pelvic Infections: Including bacterial vaginosis.
  • Bone and Joint Infections
  • Prevention of Endocarditis: In people allergic to penicillin.


  • Absorption: Clindamycin is well absorbed orally, and its absorption is not significantly affected by food. It is also available in intravenous and topical formulations.
  • Distribution: It is widely distributed throughout the body, including in bones and abscesses. However, it does not penetrate the cerebrospinal fluid well, even in the presence of inflamed meninges.
  • Metabolism: Clindamycin is metabolized in the liver, and its metabolites are active.
  • Excretion: It is excreted primarily in the urine and feces.

Adverse Effects

  • Gastrointestinal Disturbances: Including nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Clindamycin is associated with a risk of Clostridium difficile-associated diarrhea and colitis.
  • Skin Reactions: Rashes and, in rare cases, severe skin reactions.
  • Liver Enzyme Abnormalities: Elevated liver enzymes, indicating liver dysfunction.
  • Blood Disorders: Including neutropenia, eosinophilia, and thrombocytopenia.

Drug Interactions

  • Neuromuscular Blocking Agents: Clindamycin can enhance the effects of these drugs, leading to prolonged muscle relaxation.
  • Erythromycin: Concurrent use with clindamycin can lead to antagonism, reducing the effectiveness of clindamycin.


  • Allergy to Clindamycin or Lincomycin: Patients with a history of allergy to clindamycin or lincomycin should not receive this medication.
  • History of Clostridium difficile-Associated Diarrhea: Due to the risk of recurrence.


Patients on clindamycin should be monitored for signs of gastrointestinal toxicity, particularly Clostridium difficile-associated diarrhea and colitis. Regular liver function tests may also be warranted, especially in patients with pre-existing liver disease or those receiving prolonged therapy.


Unfortunately, resistance to clindamycin has been on the rise, particularly in Group A Streptococcus (GAS) in the United States since the mid-2010s. This has prompted the consideration of alternative agents like Linezolid, which has shown promising results due to its similar mechanism of action and continued susceptibility in GAS isolates​4​.

Recent Updates:

Given the increase in bacterial resistance and the decrease in the development of new antibiotics, the appropriate use of older antimicrobials like clindamycin has become increasingly important. Clindamycin remains a drug of choice for the systemic treatment of staphylococcal, streptococcal, and gram-positive anaerobic bacterial infections in both adults and children​5​.


Clindamycin is a versatile antibiotic with a broad spectrum of activity, particularly against Gram-positive bacteria and anaerobes. It is useful for treating a variety of infections, including skin and soft tissue infections, respiratory tract infections, and intra-abdominal infections. However, its use is associated with a significant risk of gastrointestinal toxicity, and careful monitoring is required to minimize the risk of adverse effects. Appropriate use, considering the potential risks and benefits, is essential to ensure safe and effective treatment.

Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. Always seek the advice of a healthcare provider with any questions regarding a medical condition.

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