The prevalence of infections caused by multidrug-resistant gram-negative Acinetobacter baumannii strains and the lack of novel antibiotics under development are posing a global dilemma, forcing a resurgence of the last-line antibiotic colistin. Our aim was to use atomic force microscopy (AFM) to investigate the morphology and topography of paired colistin-susceptible and -resistant cells from colistin-heteroresistant A. baumannii strains as a function of bacterial growth phase and colistin exposure. An optimal AFM bacterial sample preparation protocol was established and applied to examine three paired strains. Images revealed rod-shaped colistin-susceptible cells (1.65 ± 0.27 μm by 0.98 ± 0.07 μm) at mid-logarithmic phase, in contrast to spherical colistin-resistant cells (1.03 ± 0.09 μm); the latter were also more diverse in appearance and exhibited a rougher surface topography (7.05 ± 1.3 nm versus 11.4 ± 2.5 nm for susceptible versus resistant, respectively). Cellular elongation up to ∼18 μm at stationary phase was more commonly observed in susceptible strains, although these “worm-like” cells were also observed occasionally in the resistant population. The effects of colistin exposure on the cell surface of colistin-susceptible and -resistant cells were found to be similar; topographical changes were minor in response to 0.5 μg/ml colistin; however, at 4 μg/ml colistin, a significant degree of surface disruption was detected. At 32 μg/ml colistin, cellular clumping and surface smoothening were evident. Our study has demonstrated for the first time substantial morphological and topographical differences between colistin-susceptible and -resistant cells from heteroresistant A. baumannii strains. These results contribute to an understanding of colistin action and resistance in regard to this problematic pathogen.
Electrostatic forces mediate the initial interaction between cationic colistin and Gram-negative bacterial cells. Lipopolysaccharide (LPS) loss mediates colistin resistance in some A. baumannii strains. Our aim was to determine the surface charge of colistin-susceptible and –resistant A. baumannii as a function of growth phase and in response to polymyxin treatment.
The zeta potential of A. baumannii ATCC 19606 and 10 clinical multidrug-resistant strains (MICs 0.5–2 mg/L) was assessed. Colistin-resistant derivatives (MIC >128 mg/L) of wild-type strains were selected in the presence of 10 mg/L colistin, including the LPS-deficient lpxA mutant, ATCC 19606R. To determine the contribution of LPS to surface charge, two complemented ATCC 19606R derivatives were examined, namely ATCC 19606R + lpxA (containing an intact lpxA gene) and ATCC 19606R + V (containing empty vector). Investigations were conducted as a function of growth phase and polymyxin treatment (1, 4 and 8 mg/L).
Wild-type cells exhibited a greater negative charge (−60.5 ± 2.36 to −26.2 ± 2.56 mV) thancolistin-resistant cells (−49.2 ± 3.09 to −19.1 ± 2.80 mV) at mid-log phase (ANOVA, P < 0.05). Opposing growth-phase trends were observed for both phenotypes: wild-type cells displayed reduced negative charge and colistin-resistant cells displayed increased negative charge at stationary compared with mid-logarithmic phase. Polymyxin exposure resulted in a concentration-dependent increase in zeta potential. Examination of ATCC 19606R and complemented strains supported the importance of LPS in determining surface charge, suggesting a potential mechanism of colistin resistance.
Zeta potential differences between A. baumannii phenotypes probably reflect compositional outer-membrane variations that impact the electrostatic component of colistin activity.
physicochemical properties; Gram-negative; polymyxin
Contact angle analysis of cell surface hydrophobicity (CSH) describes the tendency of a water droplet to spread across a lawn of filtered bacterial cells. Colistin-induced disruption of the Gram-negative outer membrane necessitates hydrophobic contacts with lipopolysaccharide (LPS). We aimed to characterize the CSH of Acinetobacter baumannii using contact angles, to provide insight into the mechanism of colistin resistance.
METHODS AND RESULTS
Contact angles were analysed for five paired colistin-susceptible and -resistant A. baumannii strains. Drainage of the water droplet through bacterial layers was demonstrated to influence results. Consequently, measurements were performed 0.66-sec after droplet deposition. Colistin-resistant cells exhibited lower contact angles (38.8±2.8° to 46.8±1.3°) compared to their paired-susceptible strains (40.7±3.0° to 48.0±1.4°; ANOVA; p<0.05). Contact angles increased at stationary phase (50.3±2.9° to 61.5±2.5° and 47.4±2.0° to 50.8±3.2°, susceptible and resistant, respectively, ANOVA; p<0.05), and in response to colistin 32-mgL−1 exposure (44.5±1.5° to 50.6±2.8° and 43.5±2.2° to 48.0±2.2°, susceptible and resistant, respectively; ANOVA; p<0.05). Analysis of complemented strains constructed with an intact lpxA gene, or empty vector, highlighted the contribution of LPS to CSH.
Compositional outer-membrane variations likely account for CSH differences between A. baumannii phenotypes, which influence the hydrophobic colistin-bacterium interaction.
SIGNIFICANCE AND IMPACT OF STUDY
Important insight into the mechanism of colistin resistance has been provided. Greater consideration of contact angle mehodology is nescessary to ensure accurate analyses are performed.
Antimicrobials; Lipopolysaccharide; Mechanism of Action
Multidrug-resistant Acinetobacter baumannii has emerged as a significant clinical problem worldwide and colistin is being used increasingly as “salvage” therapy. MICs of colistin against A. baumannii indicate its significant activity. However, resistance to colistin in A. baumannii has been reported recently. Clonotypes of 16 clinical A. baumannii isolates and ATCC 19606 were determined by pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE), and colistin MICs were measured. The time-kill kinetics of colistin against A. baumannii ATCC 19606 and clinical isolate 6 were investigated, and population analysis profiles (PAPs) were conducted. Resistance development was investigated by serial passaging with or without exposure to colistin. Five different PFGE banding patterns were found in the clinical isolates. MICs of colistin against all isolates were within 0.25 to 2 μg/ml. Colistin showed early concentration-dependent killing, but bacterial regrowth was observed at 24 h. PAPs revealed that heteroresistance to colistin occurred in 15 of the 16 clinical isolates. Subpopulations (<0.1% from inocula of 108 to 109 CFU/ml) of ATCC 19606, and most clinical isolates grew in the presence of colistin 3 to 10 μg/ml. Four successive passages of ATCC 19606 in broth containing colistin (up to 200 μg/ml) substantially increased the proportion of the resistant subpopulations able to grow in the presence of colistin at 10 μg/ml from 0.000023 to 100%; even after 16 passages in colistin-free broth, the proportion only decreased to 2.1%. This represents the first demonstration of heterogeneous colistin-resistant A. baumannii in “colistin-susceptible” clinical isolates. Our findings give a strong warning that colistin-resistant A. baumannii may be observed more frequently due to potential suboptimal dosage regimens recommended in the product information of some products of colistin methanesulfonate.
Two mechanisms of resistance to colistin have been described in Acinetobacter baumannii. One involves complete loss of lipopolysaccharide (LPS), resulting from mutations in lpxA, lpxC, or lpxD, and the second is associated with phosphoethanolamine addition to LPS, mediated through mutations in pmrAB. In order to assess the clinical impacts of both resistance mechanisms, A. baumannii ATCC 19606 and its isogenic derivatives, AL1851 ΔlpxA, AL1852 ΔlpxD, AL1842 ΔlpxC, and ATCC 19606 pmrB, were analyzed for in vitro growth rate, in vitro and in vivo competitive growth, infection of A549 respiratory alveolar epithelial cells, virulence in the Caenorhabditis elegans model, and virulence in a systemic mouse infection model. The in vitro growth rate of the lpx mutants was clearly diminished; furthermore, in vitro and in vivo competitive-growth experiments revealed a reduction in fitness for both mutant types. Infection of A549 cells with ATCC 19606 or the pmrB mutant resulted in greater loss of viability than with lpx mutants. Finally, the lpx mutants were highly attenuated in both the C. elegans and mouse infection models, while the pmrB mutant was attenuated only in the C. elegans model. In summary, while colistin resistance in A. baumannii confers a clear selective advantage in the presence of colistin treatment, it causes a noticeable cost in terms of overall fitness and virulence, with a more striking reduction associated with LPS loss than with phosphoethanolamine addition. Therefore, we hypothesize that colistin resistance mediated by changes in pmrAB will be more likely to arise in clinical settings in patients treated with colistin.
Colistin is an old antibiotic which has been used as a therapeutic option for carbapenem- and multidrug-resistant Gram-negative bacteria, like Acinetobacter baumannii. This pathogen produces life-threatening infections, mainly in patients admitted to intensive care units. Rapid detection of resistance to colistin may improve patient outcomes and prevent the spread of resistance. For this purpose, Micromax technology was evaluated in four isogenic A. baumannii strains with known mechanisms of resistance to colistin and in 66 isolates (50 susceptible and 16 resistant). Two parameters were determined, DNA fragmentation and cell wall damage. To assess DNA fragmentation, cells trapped in a microgel were incubated with a lysing solution to remove the cell wall, and the released nucleoids were visualized under fluorescence microscopy. Fragmented DNA was observed as spots that diffuse from the nucleoid. To assess cell wall integrity, cells were incubated with a lysis solution which removes only weakened cell walls, resulting in nucleoid release exclusively in affected cells. A dose-response relationship was demonstrated between colistin concentrations and the percentages of bacteria with DNA fragmentation and cell wall damage, antibiotic effects that were delayed and less frequent in resistant strains. Receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curves demonstrated that both DNA fragmentation and cell wall damage were excellent parameters for identifying resistant strains. Obtaining ≤11% of bacteria with cell wall damage after incubation with 0.5 μg/ml colistin identified resistant strains of A. baumannii with 100% sensitivity and 96% specificity. Results were obtained in 3 h 30 min. This is a simple, rapid, and accurate assay for detecting colistin resistance in A. baumannii, with strong potential value in critical clinical situations.
Colistin is used for the treatment of pneumonia associated with multidrug-resistant Acinetobacter baumannii and Pseudomonas aeruginosa. However, the best route of administration and dosage is not known. We report our experience with aerosolized colistin in twelve patients with pneumonia caused by colistin-only-susceptible (COS) A. baumannii.
Materials and Methods
We retrospectively reviewed patients' medical records who were treated with aerosolized colistin for the treatment of pneumonia.
Ten patients were treated only with aerosolized colistin inhalation and two patients received a 3-day course intravenous colistin, and then switched to colistin inhalation therapy. The median duration of aerosolized colistin therapy was 17 days (5-31 days). Four patients were treated only with aerosolized colistin, whereas 4 patients received concomitant glycopeptides, and 4 received concomitant levofloxacin or cefoperazone/sulbactam. At the end of the therapy, the clinical response rate and bacteriological clearance rate was 83% and 50%, respectively. Colistin-resistant strains were isolated from 3 patients after aerosolized colistin therapy; however, all of them showed favorable clinical response. The median interval between inhalation therapy and resistance was 7 days (range 5-19 days). Acute kidney injury developed in 3 patients. Two patients experienced Clostridium difficile associated diarrhea. One patient developed fever and skin rash after aerosolized colistin therapy. No patient developed neurotoxicity or bronchospasm.
Colistin inhalation therapy is deemed tolerable and safe, and could be beneficial as an adjuctive therapy for the management of pneumonia due to COS A. baumannii. However, the potential development of colistin resistance cannot be overlooked.
Acinetobacter baumannii; colistin; pneumonia
Colistin resistance in Acinetobacter baumannii (A. baumannii) is mediated by a complete loss of lipopolysaccharide production via mutations in lpxA, lpxC, and lpxD gene or lipid A modifications via mutations in the pmrA and pmrB genes. However, the exact mechanism of therapy-induced colistin resistance in A. baumannii is not well understood.
Materials and Methods
We investigated the genotypic and phenotypic changes that underlie pan-drug resistance mechanisms by determining differences between the alterations in extensively drug-resistant (XDR) A. baumannii (AB001 and AB002) isolates and a pan-drug resistant (PDR) counterpart (AB003) recovered from one patient before and after antibiotic treatment, respectively.
All three clinical isolates shared an identical sequence type (ST138), belonging to the global epidemic clone, clonal complex 92, and all produced OXA-23 carbapenemase. The PDR AB003 showed two genetic differences, acquisition of armA gene and an amino acid substitution (Glu229Asp) in pmrB gene, relative to XDR isolates. No mutations were detected in the pmrA, pmrC, lpxA, lpxC, or lpxD genes in all three isolates. In matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization-time of flight analysis, the three isolates commonly showed two major peaks at 1728 m/z and 1912 m/z, but peaks at 2034 m/z, 2157 m/z, 2261 m/z, and 2384 m/z were detected only in the PDR A. baumannii AB003 isolate.
Our results show that changes in lipid A structure via a mutation in the pmrB gene and acquisition of armA gene might confer resistance to colistin and aminoglycosides to XDR A. baumannii strains, resulting in appearance of a PDR A. baumannii strain of ST138.
pmrB gene; armA gene; colistin; lipid A; Acinetobacter baumannii
Two colistin-susceptible/colistin-resistant (Cols/Colr) pairs of Acinetobacter baumannii strains assigned to international clone 2, which is prevalent worldwide, were sequentially recovered from two patients after prolonged colistin administration. Compared with the respective Cols isolates (Ab248 and Ab299, both having a colistin MIC of 0.5 μg/ml), both Colr isolates (Ab249 and Ab347, with colistin MICs of 128 and 32 μg/ml, respectively) significantly overexpressed pmrCAB genes, had single-amino-acid shifts in the PmrB protein, and exhibited significantly slower growth. The Colr isolate Ab347, tested by proteomic analysis in comparison with its Cols counterpart Ab299, underexpressed the proteins CsuA/B and C from the csu operon (which is necessary for biofilm formation). This isolate also underexpressed aconitase B and different enzymes involved in the oxidative stress response (KatE catalase, superoxide dismutase, and alkyl hydroperoxide reductase), suggesting a reduced response to reactive oxygen species (ROS) and, consequently, impaired colistin-mediated cell death through hydroxyl radical production. Cols isolates that were indistinguishable by macrorestriction analysis from Ab299 caused six sequential bloodstream infections, and isolates indistinguishable from Ab248 caused severe soft tissue infection, while Colr isolates indistinguishable from Ab347 and Ab249 were mainly colonizers. In particular, a Cols isolate identical to Ab299 was still invading the bloodstream 90 days after the colonization of this patient by Colr isolates. These observations indicate considerably lower invasiveness of A. baumannii clinical isolates following the development of colistin resistance.
Extensive drug resistance of Acinetobacter baumannii is a serious problem in the clinical setting. It is therefore important to find active antibiotic combinations that could be effective in the treatment of infections caused by this problematic 'superbug'. In this study, we analyzed the in vitro activities of three colistin-based combinations and a minocycline-based combination against clinically isolated extensive drug resistant Acinetobacter baumannii (XDR-AB) strains.
Fourteen XDR-AB clinical isolates were collected. The clonotypes were determined by polymerase chain reaction-based fingerprinting. Susceptibility testing was carried out according to the standards of the Clinical and Laboratory Standards Institute. Activities of drug combinations were investigated against four selected strains and analyzed by mean survival time over 12 hours (MST12 h) in a time-kill study.
The time-kill studies indicated that the minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC) of colistin (0.5 or 0.25 μg/mL) completely killed all strains at 2 to 4 hours, but 0.5×MIC colistin showed no bactericidal activity. Meropenem (8 μg/mL), minocycline (1 μg/mL) or rifampicin (0.06 μg/mL) did not show bactericidal activity. However, combinations of colistin at 0.5×MIC (0.25 or 0.125 μg/mL) with each of the above were synergistic and shown bactericidal activities against all test isolates. A combination of meropenem (16 μg/mL) with minocycline (0.5×MIC, 4 or 2 μg/mL) was synergitic to all test isolates, but neither showed bactericidal activity alone. The MST12 h values of drug combinations (either colistin- or minocycline-based combinations) were significantly shorter than those of the single drugs (p < 0.01).
This study indicates that combinations of colistin/meropenem, colistin/rifampicin, colistin/minocycline and minocycline/meropenem are synergistic in vitro against XDR-AB strains.
The mechanism of colistin resistance (Colr) in Acinetobacter baumannii was studied by selecting in vitro Colr derivatives of the multidrug-resistant A. baumannii isolate AB0057 and the drug-susceptible strain ATCC 17978, using escalating concentrations of colistin in liquid culture. DNA sequencing identified mutations in genes encoding the two-component system proteins PmrA and/or PmrB in each strain and in a Colr clinical isolate. A colistin-susceptible revertant of one Colr mutant strain, obtained following serial passage in the absence of colistin selection, carried a partial deletion of pmrB. Growth of AB0057 and ATCC 17978 at pH 5.5 increased the colistin MIC and conferred protection from killing by colistin in a 1-hour survival assay. Growth in ferric chloride [Fe(III)] conferred a small protective effect. Expression of pmrA was increased in Colr mutants, but not at a low pH, suggesting that additional regulatory factors remain to be discovered.
Increasing antibiotic resistance in gram-negative bacteria has recently renewed interest in colistin as a therapeutic option. The increasing use of colistin necessitates the availability of rapid and reliable methods for colistin susceptibility testing. We compared seven methods of colistin susceptibility testing (disk diffusion, agar dilution on Mueller-Hinton [MH] and Isosensitest agar, Etest on MH and Isosensitest agar, broth microdilution, and VITEK 2) on 102 clinical isolates collected from patient materials during a selective digestive decontamination or selective oral decontamination trial in an intensive-care unit. Disk diffusion is an unreliable method to measure susceptibility to colistin. High error rates and low levels of reproducibility were observed in the disk diffusion test. The colistin Etest, agar dilution, and the VITEK 2 showed a high level of agreement with the broth microdilution reference method. Heteroresistance for colistin was observed in six Enterobacter cloacae isolates and in one Acinetobacter baumannii isolate. This is the first report of heteroresistance to colistin in E. cloacae isolates. Resistance to colistin in these isolates seemed to be induced upon exposure to colistin rather than being caused by stable mutations. Heteroresistant isolates could be detected in the broth microdilution, agar dilution, Etest, or disk diffusion test. The VITEK 2 displayed low sensitivity in the detection of heteroresistant subpopulations of E. cloacae. The VITEK 2 colistin susceptibility test can therefore be considered to be a reliable tool to determine susceptibility to colistin in isolates of genera that are known not to exhibit resistant subpopulations. In isolates of genera known to (occasionally) exhibit heteroresistance, an alternative susceptibility testing method capable of detecting heteroresistance should be used.
To elucidate the pharmacokinetic/pharmacodynamic (PK/PD) index that predicts colistin efficacy against Acinetobacter baumannii in neutropenic murine thigh and lung infection models, and to determine the extent of the emergence of resistance in vivo to colistin.
PK/PD of colistin was studied in thigh and lung infection models against A. baumannii ATCC 19606 and two multidrug-resistant clinical isolates (two of the three strains were colistin heteroresistant). Dose fractionation studies were conducted over a daily dose range of 1–160 mg/kg colistin sulphate. Bacterial burden in tissues was measured at 24 h. Non-linear least squares regression analyses were employed to determine the PK/PD index (fAUC/MIC, fCmax/MIC or fT>MIC) best correlating with the efficacy of colistin in each model. Real-time population analysis profiles were conducted for tissue samples to monitor the emergence of resistance.
The fAUC/MIC was the PK/PD index that correlated best with efficacy in both thigh (R2 = 0.90) and lung (R2 = 0.80) infection models. The fAUC/MIC targets required to achieve stasis and 1 log kill against the three strains were 1.89–7.41 and 6.98–13.6 in the thigh infection model, respectively, while the corresponding values were 1.57–6.52 and 8.18–42.1 in the lung infection model. Amplification of colistin-resistant subpopulations was revealed for all strains in both models after 24 h colistin treatment.
This study indicates the importance of achieving adequate time-averaged exposure to colistin and defined target fAUC/MIC values for various magnitudes of kill. Amplification of resistant subpopulations indicates the importance of investigating rational combinations with colistin. The results will facilitate efforts to optimize colistin use in humans.
Gram-negative bacteria; emergence of resistance; population analysis profiles; heteroresistance
Combination therapy may be required for multidrug-resistant (MDR) Acinetobacter baumannii. This study systematically investigated bacterial killing and emergence of colistin resistance with colistin and rifampin combinations against MDR A. baumannii. Studies were conducted over 72 h in an in vitro pharmacokinetic (PK)/pharmacodynamic (PD) model at inocula of ∼106 and ∼108 CFU/ml using two MDR clinical isolates of A. baumannii, FADDI-AB030 (colistin susceptible) and FADDI-AB156 (colistin resistant). Three combination regimens achieving clinically relevant concentrations (constant colistin concentration of 0.5, 2, or 5 mg/liter and a rifampin maximum concentration [Cmax] of 5 mg/liter every 24 hours; half-life, 3 h) were investigated. Microbiological response was measured by serial bacterial counts. Population analysis profiles assessed emergence of colistin resistance. Against both isolates, combinations resulted in substantially greater killing at the low inoculum; combinations containing 2 and 5 mg/liter colistin increased killing at the high inoculum. Combinations were additive or synergistic at 6, 24, 48, and 72 h with all colistin concentrations against FADDI-AB030 and FADDI-AB156 in, respectively, 8 and 11 of 12 cases (i.e., all 3 combinations) at the 106-CFU/ml inoculum and 8 and 7 of 8 cases with the 2- and 5-mg/liter colistin regimens at the 108-CFU/ml inoculum. For FADDI-AB156, killing by the combination was ∼2.5 to 7.5 and ∼2.5 to 5 log10 CFU/ml greater at the low inoculum (all colistin concentrations) and high inoculum (2 and 5 mg/liter colistin), respectively. Emergence of colistin-resistant subpopulations was completely suppressed in the colistin-susceptible isolate with all combinations at both inocula. Our study provides important information for optimizing colistin-rifampin combinations against colistin-susceptible and -resistant MDR A. baumannii.
Acinetobacter baumannii has successfully developed resistance against all common antibiotics, including colistin (polymyxin E), the last universally active drug against this pathogen. The possible widespread distribution of colistin-resistant A. baumannii strains may create an alarming clinical situation. In a previous work, we reported differences in lethal mechanisms between polymyxin B (PXB) and the cecropin A-melittin (CA-M) hybrid peptide CA(1-8)M(1-18) (KWKLFKKIGIGAVLKVLTTGLPALIS-NH2) on colistin-susceptible strains (J. M. Saugar, T. Alarcón, S. López-Hernández, M. López-Brea, D. Andreu, and L. Rivas, Antimicrob. Agents Chemother. 46:875-878, 2002). We now demonstrate that CA(1-8)M(1-18) and three short analogues, namely CA(1-7)M(2-9) (KWKLFKKIGAVLKVL-NH2), its Nα-octanoyl derivative (Oct-KWKLFKKIGAVLKVL-NH2), and CA(1-7)M(5-9) (KWKLLKKIGAVLKVL-NH2) are active against two colistin-resistant clinical strains. In vitro, resistance to colistin sulfate was targeted to the outer membrane, as spheroplasts were equally lysed by a given peptide, regardless of their respective level of colistin resistance. The CA-M hybrids were more efficient than colistin in displacing lipopolysaccharide-bound dansyl-polymyxin B from colistin-resistant but not from colistin-susceptible strains. Similar improved performance of the CA-M hybrids in permeation of the inner membrane was observed, regardless of the resistance pattern of the strain. These results argue in favor of a possible use of CA-M peptides, and by extension other antimicrobial peptides with similar features, as alternative chemotherapy in colistin-resistant Acinetobacter infections.
Colistin resistance, although uncommon, is increasingly being reported among Gram-negative clinical pathogens, and an understanding of its impact on the activity of antimicrobials is now evolving. We evaluated the potential for synergy of colistin plus trimethoprim, trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole (1/19 ratio), or vancomycin against 12 isolates of Acinetobacter baumannii (n = 4), Pseudomonas aeruginosa (n = 4), and Klebsiella pneumoniae (n = 4). The strains included six multidrug-resistant clinical isolates, K. pneumoniae ATCC 700603, A. baumannii ATCC 19606, P. aeruginosa ATCC 27853, and their colistin-resistant derivatives (KPm1, ABm1, and PAm1, respectively). Antimicrobial susceptibilities were assessed by broth microdilution and population analysis profiles. The potential for synergy of colistin combinations was evaluated using a checkerboard assay, as well as static time-kill experiments at 0.5× and 0.25× MIC. The MIC ranges of vancomycin, trimethoprim, and trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole (1/19) were ≥128, 4 to ≥128, and 2/38 to >128/2,432 μg/ml, respectively. Colistin resistance demonstrated little impact on vancomycin, trimethoprim, or trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole MIC values. Isolates with subpopulations heterogeneously resistant to colistin were observed to various degrees in all tested isolates. In time-kill assays, all tested combinations were synergistic against KPm1 at 0.25× MIC and 0.5× MIC and ABm1 and PAm1 at 0.5× MIC. In contrast, none of the tested combinations demonstrated synergy against any colistin-susceptible P. aeruginosa isolates and clinical strains of K. pneumoniae isolates. Only colistin plus trimethoprim or trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole was synergistic and bactericidal at 0.5× MIC against K. pneumoniae ATCC 700603. Colistin resistance seems to promote the in vitro activity of unconventional colistin combinations. Additional experiments are warranted to understand the clinical significance of these observations.
Treatment of infections due to extensively drug-resistant (XDR) Acinetobacter baumannii often involves the use of antimicrobial agents in combination. Various combinations of agents have been proposed, with colistin serving as the backbone in many of them. Recent data suggest that glycopeptides, in particular vancomycin, may have unique activity against laboratory-adapted and clinical strains of A. baumannii, alone and in combination with colistin. The aim of the present study was to test this approach against three unique colistin-resistant A. baumannii clinical strains using combinations of vancomycin (VAN), colistin (COL), and doripenem (DOR). All three strains possessed the signature phosphoethanolamine modification of the lipid A moiety associated with colistin resistance and unique amino acid changes in the PmrAB two-component signal transduction system not observed in colistin-susceptible strains. In checkerboard assays, synergy (defined as a fractional inhibitory concentration index [FICI] of ≤0.5) was observed between COL and VAN for all three strains tested and between COL and DOR in two strains. In time-kill assays, the combinations of COL-DOR, COL-VAN, and COL-DOR-VAN resulted in complete killing of colistin-resistant A. baumannii in 1, 2, and all 3 strains, respectively. In the Galleria mellonella moth model of infection, the combinations of DOR-VAN and COL-DOR-VAN led to significantly increased survival of the larvae, compared with other combinations and monotherapy. These findings suggest that regimens containing vancomycin may confer therapeutic benefit for infection due to colistin-resistant A. baumannii.
Colistin is one of the few agents that retain activity against extensively drug-resistant strains of Klebsiella pneumoniae producing KPC-type carbapenemases (KPC-KP). However, resistance to colistin is increasingly reported among KPC-KP. Comparative genomic analysis of a pair of sequential KPC-KP isolates from the same patient including a colistin-susceptible isolate (KKBO-1) and a colistin-resistant isolate (KKBO-4) selected after colistin exposure revealed that insertional inactivation of the mgrB gene, encoding a negative regulator of the PhoQ/PhoP signaling system, is a genetic mechanism for acquired colistin resistance. The role of mgrB inactivation in acquired colistin resistance was confirmed by complementation experiments with wild-type mgrB, which restored colistin susceptibility in KKBO-4, and by construction of an mgrB deletion mutant from KKBO-1, which exhibited a colistin-resistant phenotype. Insertional mgrB inactivation was also detected in 60% of colistin-resistant mutants selected from KKBO-1 in vitro, following plating on colistin-containing medium, confirming the role (although not unique) of this mechanism in the emergence of acquired colistin resistance. In colistin-resistant mutants carrying insertional inactivation or deletion of the mgrB gene, upregulated transcription of phoP, phoQ, and pmrK (which is part of the pmrHFIJKLM operon) was detected. These findings confirmed the MgrB regulatory role in K. pneumoniae and were in agreement with the known association between upregulation of the PhoQ/PhoP system and activation of the pmrHFIJKLM operon, which eventually leads to resistance to polymyxins by modification of the lipopolysaccharide target.
The alarming rise in antibiotic resistance has led to an increase in patient mortality and health care costs. This problem is compounded by the absence of new antibiotics close to regulatory approval. Acinetobacter baumannii is a human pathogen that causes infections primarily in patients in intensive care units (ICUs) and is highly antibiotic resistant. Colistin is one of the last-line antibiotics for treating A. baumannii infections; however, colistin-resistant strains are becoming increasingly common. This cationic antibiotic attacks negatively charged bacterial membranes in a manner similar to that seen with cationic antimicrobials of the innate immune system. We therefore set out to determine if the increasing use of colistin, and emergence of colistin-resistant strains, is concomitant with the generation of cross-resistance to host cationic antimicrobials. We found that there is indeed a positive correlation between resistance to colistin and resistance to the host antimicrobials LL-37 and lysozyme among clinical isolates. Importantly, isolates obtained before and after treatment of individual patients demonstrated that colistin use correlated with increased resistance to cationic host antimicrobials. These data reveal the overlooked risk of inducing cross-resistance to host antimicrobials when treating patients with colistin as a last-line antibiotic.
Increased use of the cationic antibiotic colistin to treat multidrug-resistant Acinetobacter baumannii has led to the development of colistin-resistant strains. Here we report that treatment of patients with colistin can induce not only increased resistance to colistin but also resistance to host cationic antimicrobials. This worrisome finding likely represents an example of a broader trend observed in other bacteria against which colistin is used therapeutically such as Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Klebsiella pneumoniae. Furthermore, these data suggest that the possible future use of an array of cationic antimicrobial peptides in development as therapeutics may have unintended negative consequences, eventually leading to the generation of hypervirulent strains that are resistant to innate host defenses. The potential for the induction of cross-resistance to innate immune antimicrobials should be considered during the development of new therapeutics.
Recent clinical studies performed in a large number of patients showed that colistin "forgotten" for several decades revived for the management of infections due to multidrug-resistant (MDR) Gram-negative bacteria (GNB) and had acceptable effectiveness and considerably less toxicity than that reported in older publications. Colistin is a rapidly bactericidal antimicrobial agent that possesses a significant postantibiotic effect against MDR Gram-negative pathogens, such as Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Acinetobacter baumannii, and Klebsiella pneumoniae. The optimal colistin dosing regimen against MDR GNB is still unknown in the intensive care unit (ICU) setting. A better understanding of the pharmacokinetic-pharmacodynamic relationship of colistin is urgently needed to determine the optimal dosing regimen. Although pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic data in ICU patients are scarce, recent evidence shows that the pharmacokinetics/pharmacodynamics of colistimethate sodium and colistin in critically ill patients differ from those previously found in other groups, such as cystic fibrosis patients. The AUC:MIC ratio has been found to be the parameter best associated with colistin efficacy. To maximize the AUC:MIC ratio, higher doses of colistimethate sodium and alterations in the dosing intervals may be warranted in the ICU setting. In addition, the development of colistin resistance has been linked to inadequate colistin dosing. This enforces the importance of colistin dose optimization in critically ill patients. Although higher colistin doses seem to be beneficial, the lack of colistin pharmacokinetic-pharmacodynamic data results in difficulty for the optimization of daily colistin dose. In conclusion, although colistin seems to be a very reliable alternative for the management of life-threatening nosocomial infections due to MDR GNB, it should be emphasized that there is a lack of guidelines regarding the ideal management of these infections and the appropriate colistin doses in critically ill patients with and without multiple organ failure.
Acinetobacter baumannii is a nosocomial opportunistic pathogen that can cause severe infections, including hospital-acquired pneumonia, wound infections, and sepsis. Multidrug-resistant (MDR) strains are prevalent, further complicating patient treatment. Due to the increase in MDR strains, the cationic antimicrobial peptide colistin has been used to treat A. baumannii infections. Colistin-resistant strains of A. baumannii with alterations to the lipid A component of lipopolysaccharide (LPS) have been reported; specifically, the lipid A structure was shown to be hepta-acylated with a phosphoethanolamine (pEtN) modification present on one of the terminal phosphate residues. Using a tandem mass spectrometry platform, we provide definitive evidence that the lipid A isolated from colistin-resistant A. baumannii MAC204 LPS contains a novel structure corresponding to a diphosphoryl hepta-acylated lipid A structure with both pEtN and galactosamine (GalN) modifications. To correlate our structural studies with clinically relevant samples, we characterized colistin-susceptible and -resistant isolates obtained from patients. These results demonstrated that the clinical colistin-resistant isolate had the same pEtN and GalN modifications as those seen in the laboratory-adapted A. baumannii strain MAC204. In summary, this work has shown complete structure characterization including the accurate assignment of acylation, phosphorylation, and glycosylation of lipid A from A. baumannii, which are important for resistance to colistin.
Colistin is increasingly used as a salvage therapy for nosocomial infections caused by multidrug-resistant Gram-negative bacteria such as Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Acinetobacter baumannii. However, the available pharmacokinetic (PK) data for colistin are limited to guide dosing. The aim of this study was to develop a population PK model of colistin and to identify the optimal dosage regimens for burn patients. Fifty patients with burns ranging from 4% to 85% of total body surface area who had been treated with colistimethate sodium (CMS) were studied. CMS, which is hydrolyzed in vivo to an active metabolite, was intravenously administered every 12 h. Blood samples were collected at 0, 1, 2, 4, 6, and 8 h after more than five infusions to measure the colistin concentration using a liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) system. The population PK model was developed using nonlinear mixed effect modeling (NONMEM, v. 6.2). A one-compartment linear PK model for colistin best described the data. The covariates included in the final model were creatinine clearance for the relative fraction of CMS converted into colistin and the presence of edema for the turnover rate constant of CMS converted into colistin. A steady-state 24-h area under the concentration-time curve was simulated from 1,000 virtual patients receiving 150 mg colistin base activity every 12 h using the final model. Relative to previous studies with critically ill patients, the elimination half-life of colistin (6.6 h) was much shorter, and continuous renal replacement therapy was not a significant covariate for any PK parameters.
Recently Acinetobacter baumannii isolates have emerged as a problematic infectious agent that causes meningitis in neurosurgical patients. Colistin has been used successfully for the treatment of A. baumannii meningitis but colistin resistant isolates have been reported worldwide.
Two isolates of A. baumannii were cultured during a five-day period from cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) samples of a 20-year-old man with a gunshot trauma in the abdomen, which had exited from his back. Antimicrobial susceptibility tests of isolates were performed. Multiplex PCR was performed for detection of blaOXA-23-like, blaOXA-24-like and blaOXA-58-like genes. Metallo-β-lactamase genes such as: blaVIM, blaIMP, blaSPM and blaNDM were sought by singleplex PCR. In order to evaluate the genetic relationship, two isolates were examined by the repetitive extragenic palindromic-polymerase chain reaction (REP_PCR) method.
E-test results showed that the isolates were sensitive to colistin and tigecycline with minimum inhibitory concentration of (MIC) 0.25 µg/mL and 1.5 µg/mL, respectively. Secondly the isolates were resistant to colistin with MIC > 256 µg/mL but remained sensitive to tigecycline with MIC 1.5 µg/mL. On the basis of the multiplex PCR, both of the isolates were positive for blaOXA-23-like. Other investigated genes such as blaOXA-24-like, blaOXA-58-like, blaVIM, blaIMP, blaSPM and blaNDM were negative. REP-PCR results showed that two isolates were derived from a single strain and both were the same. The results of our study revealed that the firs isolate of A. baumannii was colistin heteroresistant and was changed to completely resistant during therapy. Diagnosis and treatment of A. baumannii meningitis is very important and to avoid treatment failure we suggest that all A. baumannii isolates obtained from CSF should be evaluated properly for colistin heteroresistance.
Acinetobacter baumannii; Meningitis; Colistin; Neurosurgery
We recently demonstrated that colistin resistance in Acinetobacter baumannii can result from mutational inactivation of genes essential for lipid A biosynthesis (Moffatt JH, et al., Antimicrob. Agents Chemother. 54:4971–4977). Consequently, strains harboring these mutations are unable to produce the major Gram-negative bacterial surface component, lipopolysaccharide (LPS). To understand how A. baumannii compensates for the lack of LPS, we compared the transcriptional profile of the A. baumannii type strain ATCC 19606 to that of an isogenic, LPS-deficient, lpxA mutant strain. The analysis of the expression profiles indicated that the LPS-deficient strain showed increased expression of many genes involved in cell envelope and membrane biogenesis. In particular, upregulated genes included those involved in the Lol lipoprotein transport system and the Mla-retrograde phospholipid transport system. In addition, genes involved in the synthesis and transport of poly-β-1,6-N-acetylglucosamine (PNAG) also were upregulated, and a corresponding increase in PNAG production was observed. The LPS-deficient strain also exhibited the reduced expression of genes predicted to encode the fimbrial subunit FimA and a type VI secretion system (T6SS). The reduced expression of genes involved in T6SS correlated with the detection of the T6SS-effector protein AssC in culture supernatants of the A. baumannii wild-type strain but not in the LPS-deficient strain. Taken together, these data show that, in response to total LPS loss, A. baumannii alters the expression of critical transport and biosynthesis systems associated with modulating the composition and structure of the bacterial surface.
Infections caused by multidrug-resistant (MDR) Gram-negative bacteria represent a major global health problem. Polymyxin antibiotics such as colistin have resurfaced as effective last-resort antimicrobials for use against MDR Gram-negative pathogens, including Acinetobacter baumannii. Here we show that A. baumannii can rapidly develop resistance to polymyxin antibiotics by complete loss of the initial binding target, the lipid A component of lipopolysaccharide (LPS), which has long been considered to be essential for the viability of Gram-negative bacteria. We characterized 13 independent colistin-resistant derivatives of A. baumannii type strain ATCC 19606 and showed that all contained mutations within one of the first three genes of the lipid A biosynthesis pathway: lpxA, lpxC, and lpxD. All of these mutations resulted in the complete loss of LPS production. Furthermore, we showed that loss of LPS occurs in a colistin-resistant clinical isolate of A. baumannii. This is the first report of a spontaneously occurring, lipopolysaccharide-deficient, Gram-negative bacterium.