Lozano-Huntelman, Natalie Ann; April Zhou; Elif Tekin; Mauricio Cruz-Loya; Bjorn Ostman; Sada Boyd; Van M. Savage and Pamela Yeh

The rapid increase of multi-drug resistant bacteria has led to a greater emphasis on multi-drug combination treatments. However, some combinations can be suppressive-that is, bacteria grow faster in some drug combinations than when treated with a single drug. Typically, when studying interactions, the overall effect of the combination is only compared with the single-drug effects. However, doing so could miss "hidden'' cases of suppression, which occur when the highest order is suppressive compared with a lower-order combination but not to a single drug. We examined an extensive dataset of 5-drug combinations and all lower-order-single, 2-, 3-, and 4-drug-combinations. We found that a majority of all combinations-54%-contain hidden suppression. Examining hidden interactions is critical to understanding the architecture of higher-order interactions and can substantially affect our understanding and predictions of the evolution of antibiotic resistance under multi-drug treatments.