Trimethoprim binds to dihydrofolate reductase and inhibits the reduction of dihydrofolic acid (DHF) to tetrahydrofolic acid (THF). THF is an essential precursor in the thymidine synthesis pathway and interference with this pathway inhibits bacterial DNA synthesis. Trimethoprim's affinity for bacterial dihydrofolate reductase is several thousand times greater than its affinity for human dihydrofolate reductase. Sulfamethoxazole inhibits dihydrofolate synthetase (aka dihydropteroate synthetase), an enzyme involved further upstream in the same pathway. Trimethoprim and sulfamethoxazole are commonly used in combination due to their synergistic effects. This drug combination also reduces the development of resistance that is seen when either drug is used alone.
Trimethoprim is a pyrimidine analogue that disrupts folate synthesis, an essential part of the thymidine synthesis pathway. Inhibition of the enzyme starves the bacteria of nucleotides necessary for DNA replication.The drug, therefore, exhibits bactericidal activity.
Hepatic metabolism to oxide and hydroxylated metabolites.
LD50=4850 (orally in mice)