Amphotericin B is fungistatic or fungicidal depending on the concentration obtained in body fluids and the susceptibility of the fungus. The drug acts by binding to sterols (ergosterol) in the cell membrane of susceptible fungi. This creates a transmembrane channel, and the resultant change in membrane permeability allowing leakage of intracellular components. Ergosterol, the principal sterol in the fungal cytoplasmic membrane, is the target site of action of amphotericin B and the azoles. Amphotericin B, a polyene, binds irreversibly to ergosterol, resulting in disruption of membrane integrity and ultimately cell death.
Amphotericin B shows a high order of in vitro activity against many species of fungi. Histoplasma capsulatum, Coccidioides immitis, Candida species, Blastomyces dermatitidis, Rhodotorula, Cryptococcus neoformans, Sporothrix schenckii, Mucor mucedo, and Aspergillus fumigatus are all inhibited by concentrations of amphotericin B ranging from 0.03 to 1.0 mcg/mL in vitro. While Candida albicans is generally quite susceptible to amphotericin B, non-albicans species may be less susceptible. Pseudallescheria boydii and Fusarium sp. are often resistant to amphotericin B. The antibiotic is without effect on bacteria, rickettsiae, and viruses.
Oral, rat: LD50 = >5 gm/kg. Amphotericin B overdoses can result in cardio-respiratory arrest.