Systemic absorption of nasally administered tobramycin and colistin in patients with cystic fibrosis

J Antimicrob Chemother. 2014 Nov;69(11):3112-5. doi: 10.1093/jac/dku239. Epub 2014 Jul 11.


Objectives: In cystic fibrosis (CF) patients the paranasal sinuses can constitute a niche for bacteria, which can migrate to the lungs. Nasal administration of antibiotics may be effective, but safety of this treatment has to be established first. The objective of this study was to investigate the systemic absorption of nasally administered tobramycin, colistin (administered as colistin sulfomethate sodium; CMS) and a combination of both drugs using systemic absorption as surrogate for safety. In addition, tolerability of the nasal irrigations was examined.

Methods: Ten adult CF patients performed three different nasal irrigations: 300 mg of tobramycin; 160 mg of CMS; and 300 mg of tobramycin combined with 160 mg of CMS. Serum concentrations of tobramycin and colistin A and B (the main components of colistin) were analysed. Tolerability was measured using a visual analogue scale. Dutch Trial Register: NTR 4008.

Results: Following the tobramycin and the combined irrigation, only two patients had detectable tobramycin serum levels, with the highest being 0.054 mg/L. Serum levels of colistin A and B were not detectable. All three nasal irrigation solutions were well tolerated with a higher tolerability for CMS compared with tobramycin.

Conclusions: Nasal irrigations with tobramycin, CMS and a combination of tobramycin and CMS resulted in safe serum levels and were well tolerated.

Keywords: antibiotics; nasal administration; pharmacokinetics.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Absorption, Physiological / drug effects
  • Absorption, Physiological / physiology*
  • Administration, Intranasal
  • Adult
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / administration & dosage
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / metabolism*
  • Colistin / administration & dosage
  • Colistin / metabolism*
  • Cystic Fibrosis / drug therapy
  • Cystic Fibrosis / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Nasal Mucosa / drug effects
  • Nasal Mucosa / metabolism*
  • Tobramycin / administration & dosage
  • Tobramycin / metabolism*
  • Young Adult


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Tobramycin
  • Colistin