Polymyxin acute kidney injury: Dosing and other strategies to reduce toxicity

Roger L. Nation, Maria Helena Maria, Diego R. Falci, Alexandre P. Zavascki

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

70 Citations (Scopus)


Polymyxins are valuable antimicrobials for the management of multidrug-resistant Gram-negative bacteria; however, nephrotoxicity associated with these drugs is a very common side effect that occurs during treatment. This article briefly reviews nephrotoxic mechanisms and risk factors for polymyxin-associated acute kidney injury (AKI) and discusses dosing strategies that may mitigate kidney damage without compromising antimicrobial activity. Polymyxins have a very narrow therapeutic window and patients requiring treatment with these drugs are frequently severely ill and have multiple comorbidities, which increases the risk of AKI. Notably, there is a significant overlap between therapeutic and toxic plasma polymyxin concentrations that substantially complicates dose selection. Recent dosing protocols for both colistin and polymyxin B have been developed and may help fine tune dose adjustment of these antibiotics. Minimizing exposure to modifiable risk factors, such as other nephrotoxic agents, is strongly recommended. The dose should be carefully selected, particularly in high-risk patients. The administration of oxidative stress-reducing drugs is a promising strategy to ameliorate polymyxin-associated AKI, but still requires support from clinical studies.

Original languageEnglish
Article number24
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2019


  • Acute kidney injury
  • Colistin
  • Dosing
  • Pharmacokinetics/pharmacodynamics
  • Polymyxin B

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