Paradoxical effect of polymyxin B: high drug exposure amplifies resistance in Acinetobacter baumannii

Brian T. Tsuji, Cornelia B. Landersdorfer, Justin R. Lenhard, Soon-Ee Cheah, Visanu Thamlikitkul, Gauri G. Rao, Patricia N. Holden, Alan Forrest, Jurgen B. Bulitta, Roger L. Nation, Jian Li

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26 Citations (Scopus)


Administering polymyxin antibiotics in a traditional fashion may be ineffective against Gram-negative ESKAPE (Enterococcus faecium, Staphylococcus aureus, Klebsiella pneumoniae, Acinetobacter baumannii, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and Enterobacter species) pathogens. Here, we explored increasing the dose intensity of polymyxin B against two strains of Acinetobacter baumannii in the hollow-fiber infection model. The following dosage regimens were simulated for polymyxin B (t1/2 = 8 h): nonloading dose (1.43 mg/kg of body weight every 12 h [q12h]), loading dose (2.22 mg/kg q12h for 1 dose and then 1.43 mg/kg q12h), front-loading dose (3.33 mg/kg q12h for 1 dose followed by 1.43 mg/kg q12h), burst (5.53 mg/kg for 1 dose), and supraburst (18.4 mg/kg for 1 dose). Against both A. baumannii isolates, a rapid initial decline in the total population was observed within the first 6 h of polymyxin exposure, whereby greater polymyxin B exposure resulted in greater maximal killing of -1.25, -1.43, -2.84, -2.84, and -3.40 log10 CFU/ml within the first 6 h. Unexpectedly, we observed a paradoxical effect whereby higher polymyxin B exposures dramatically increased resistant subpopulations that grew on agar containing up to 10 mg/liter of polymyxin B over 336 h. High drug exposure also proliferated polymyxin-dependent growth. A cost-benefit pharmacokinetic/pharmacodynamic relationship between 24-h killing and 336-h resistance was explored. The intersecting point, where the benefit of bacterial killing was equal to the cost of resistance, was an fAUC0-24 (area under the concentration-time curve from 0 to 24 h for the free, unbound fraction of drug) of 38.5 mg·h/liter for polymyxin B. Increasing the dose intensity of polymyxin B resulted in amplification of resistance, highlighting the need to utilize polymyxins as part of a combination against high-bacterial-density A. baumannii infections.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3913-3920
Number of pages8
JournalAntimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2016

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