Colistin: The Revival of Polymyxins for the Management of Multidrug-Resistant Gram-Negative Bacterial Infections

Clin Infect Dis. 2005 May 1;40(9):1333-41. doi: 10.1086/429323. Epub 2005 Mar 22.

Abstract

The emergence of multidrug-resistant gram-negative bacteria and the lack of new antibiotics to combat them have led to the revival of polymyxins, an old class of cationic, cyclic polypeptide antibiotics. Polymyxin B and polymyxin E (colistin) are the 2 polymyxins used in clinical practice. Most of the reintroduction of polymyxins during the last few years is related to colistin. The polymyxins are active against selected gram-negative bacteria, including Acinetobacter species, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Klebsiella species, and Enterobacter species. These drugs have been used extensively worldwide for decades for local use. However, parenteral use of these drugs was abandoned approximately 20 years ago in most countries, except for treatment of patients with cystic fibrosis, because of reports of common and serious nephrotoxicity and neurotoxicity. Recent studies of patients who received intravenous polymyxins for the treatment of serious P. aeruginosa and Acinetobacter baumannii infections of various types, including pneumonia, bacteremia, and urinary tract infections, have led to the conclusion that these antibiotics have acceptable effectiveness and considerably less toxicity than was reported in old studies.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / pharmacology*
  • Colistin / pharmacology*
  • Drug Resistance, Multiple, Bacterial*
  • Gram-Negative Bacterial Infections / drug therapy*
  • Humans

Substances

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Colistin