Emergence of colistin resistance in Enterobacteriaceae after the introduction of selective digestive tract decontamination in an intensive care unit

Antimicrob Agents Chemother. 2013 Jul;57(7):3224-9. doi: 10.1128/AAC.02634-12. Epub 2013 Apr 29.


Selective decontamination of the digestive tract (SDD) selectively eradicates aerobic Gram-negative bacteria (AGNB) by the enteral administration of oral nonabsorbable antimicrobial agents, i.e., colistin and tobramycin. We retrospectively investigated the impact of SDD, applied for 5 years as part of an infection control program for the control of an outbreak with extended-spectrum beta-lactamase (ESBL)-producing Klebsiella pneumoniae in an intensive care unit (ICU), on resistance among AGNB. Colistin MICs were determined on stored ESBL-producing K. pneumoniae isolates using the Etest. The occurrence of both tobramycin resistance among pathogens intrinsically resistant to colistin (CIR) and bacteremia caused by ESBL-producing K. pneumoniae and CIR were investigated. Of the 134 retested ESBL-producing K. pneumoniae isolates, 28 were isolated before SDD was started, and all had MICs of <1.5 mg/liter. For the remaining 106 isolated after starting SDD, MICs ranged between 0.5 and 24 mg/liter. Tobramycin-resistant CIR isolates were found sporadically before the introduction of SDD, but their prevalence increased immediately afterward. Segmented regression analysis showed a highly significant relationship between SDD and resistance to tobramycin. Five patients were identified with bacteremia caused by ESBL-producing K. pneumoniae before SDD and 9 patients thereafter. No bacteremia caused by CIR was found before SDD, but its occurrence increased to 26 after the introduction of SDD. In conclusion, colistin resistance among ESBL-producing K. pneumoniae isolates emerged rapidly after SDD. In addition, both the occurrence and the proportion of tobramycin resistance among CIR increased under the use of SDD. SDD should not be applied in outbreak settings when resistant bacteria are prevalent.

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / administration & dosage
  • Bacteremia / drug therapy
  • Bacteremia / microbiology
  • Colistin / administration & dosage
  • Colistin / pharmacology*
  • Cross Infection / drug therapy
  • Cross Infection / microbiology
  • Decontamination
  • Disease Outbreaks
  • Drug Resistance, Bacterial*
  • Gastrointestinal Tract / microbiology*
  • Humans
  • Infection Control
  • Intensive Care Units
  • Klebsiella Infections / drug therapy
  • Klebsiella pneumoniae / drug effects*
  • Klebsiella pneumoniae / isolation & purification
  • Microbial Sensitivity Tests
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Tobramycin / administration & dosage
  • Tobramycin / pharmacology*
  • beta-Lactamases / biosynthesis
  • beta-Lactamases / metabolism


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • beta-Lactamases
  • Tobramycin
  • Colistin