The spread of extensively drug-resistant (XDR) gram-negative bacteria has boosted colistin use, with a resultant selection of colistin-resistant, often pandrug-resistant strains. Whether acquisition of further resistance mechanisms translates into a reduced virulence is the subject of active research. In this report, we describe clinical features of an immunocompromised patient who developed infection due to colistin-resistant Acinetobacter baumannii while on long-term colistin therapy. We analyzed phenotypic and genotypic characteristics, molecular mechanisms of colistin resistance, and in vitro and in vivo fitness of sequential colistin-sensitive and colistin-resistant strains isolated from the patient. Both colistin-sensitive and colistin-resistant strains were XDR and showed identical ST78 genotype. At variance with prior reports on colistin-resistant strains of A. baumannii, resistance to colistin due to P233S mutation in PmrB sensor kinase did not associate with any measurable reduction in strain fitness, growth characteristics, and virulence.
Keywords: Acinetobacter baumannii; Colistin resistance; Colistin therapy; In vitro fitness; In vivo virulence; pmrB mutation.
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