Polymyxin resistance in Acinetobacter baumannii: genetic mutations and transcriptomic changes in response to clinically relevant dosage regimens

Soon-Ee Cheah, Matthew D Johnson, Yan Zhu, Brian T Tsuji, Alan Forrest, Jurgen Bulitta, John D Boyce, Roger L Nation, Jian Li

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55 Citations (Scopus)


Polymyxins are often last-line therapeutic agents used to treat infections caused by multidrug-resistant A. baumannii. Recent reports of polymyxin-resistant A. baumannii highlight the urgent need for research into mechanisms of polymyxin resistance. This study employed genomic and transcriptomic analyses to investigate the mechanisms of polymyxin resistance in A. baumannii AB307-0294 using an in vitro dynamic model to mimic four different clinically relevant dosage regimens of polymyxin B and colistin over 96 h. Polymyxin B dosage regimens that achieved peak concentrations above 1 mg/L within 1 h caused significant bacterial killing (∼5 log10 CFU/mL), while the gradual accumulation of colistin resulted in no bacterial killing. Polymyxin resistance was observed across all dosage regimens; partial reversion to susceptibility was observed in 6 of 8 bacterial samples during drug-free passaging. Stable polymyxin-resistant samples contained a mutation in pmrB. The transcriptomes of stable and non-stable polymyxin-resistant samples were not substantially different and featured altered expression of genes associated with outer membrane structure and biogenesis. These findings were further supported via integrated analysis of previously published transcriptomics data from strain ATCC19606. Our results provide a foundation for understanding the mechanisms of polymyxin resistance following exposure to polymyxins and the need to explore effective combination therapies.

Original languageEnglish
Article number26233
Number of pages11
JournalScientific Reports
Publication statusPublished - 19 May 2016

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