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Since the discovery of
penicillin by Fleming in 1928, the knowledge
of the antibiotics’ spectrum and mechanism of action has been steadily
increasing. Antibiotics became an effective tool in the fight against many
pathogens, changing the prognosis of outcome for many serious diseases. It is
already known that antibiotics not only have the antibacterial activity, but
many of them—e.g.
macrolides, sulphonamides and tetracyclines—have immunomodulating effect, affecting functions of lymphocytes, macrophages and costimulatory molecules, macrophage migration and phagocytosis,
as well as proinflammatory cytokine secretion. The expanding knowledge of the
effects of antibiotics on the immune system has brought with it new
applications of antibiotics in organ transplantation, invasive cardiology and
treatment of autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid
arthritis or asthma.