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Previous studies in experimental animals showed that daptomycin, a lipopeptide antibiotic, protects against aminoglycoside nephrotoxicity (C. A. Wood, H. C. Finkbeiner, S. J. Kohlhepp, P. W. Kohnen, and D. N. Gilbert, Antimicrob. Agents Chemother. 33:1280-1285, 1989; D. Beauchamp, M. Pellerin, P. Gourde, M. Pettigrew, and M. G. Bergeron, Antimicrob. Agents Chemother. 34:139-147, 1990). In order to better understand the mechanism involved in this protective effect, the subcellular distribution of daptomycin was investigated in the proximal tubular cells of animals treated with daptomycin alone or in combination with tobramycin. A first group of female Sprague-Dawley rats received a single intravenous injection of daptomycin at a dose of 100 mg/kg of body weight and were killed at 10 min, 1 h, or 24 h after the injection. Other groups of rats were treated during 10 days with saline (NaCl, 0.9%), tobramycin at dosages of 20 mg/kg/12 h, daptomycin at dosages of 10 mg/kg/12 h, or the combination tobramycin-daptomycin at the same dosages. At the time of sacrifice, the renal cortex of the right kidney of each animal was dissected, and small blocks of tissue were fixed, dehydrated, and embedded in Araldite 502 epoxy resin. The subcellular distribution of daptomycin and tobramycin was determined on ultrathin sections by immunogold labeling. Ten minutes after the injection of daptomycin alone, gold particles were seen over the brush border membrane and on the membranes of the endocytic vacuoles of proximal tubular cells. One hour after the injection, a similar distribution was seen and numerous gold particles were found over the lysosomes of proximal tubular cells. The results suggest that daptomycin might protect against aminoglycoside nephrotoxicity by interfering with the interaction between the aminoglycoside and phospholipids inside the lysosomes of proximal tubular cells.