Aerosolized amikacin reaches high concentrations in lung fluids, which are well above the minimum inhibitory concentrations (MICs) of resistant strains of Pseudomonas aeruginosa. However, P. aeruginosa can gain resistance to amikacin through different cumulative mechanisms; amikacin MICs are seldom reported beyond values of 1,000 μg/ml, as tested in clinical microbiology assays. To assess how high amikacin MICs can be reached by graded exposure, four amikacin-resistant P. aeruginosa isolates were grown in a 4-step increased exposure to amikacin; derivative strains were further characterized by measuring their comparative growth rate, biofilm-forming ability, and susceptibility to other antibiotics. In addition, the mechanism underlying the MIC increase was assessed phenotypically, using a set of 12 aminoglycoside disks, and measuring the effect of Phe-Arg-β-naphthylamide, an efflux pump inhibitor. Graded exposure to amikacin increased MICs of resistant strains up to 10,000-20,000 μg/ml, without apparent fitness cost, and having variable consequences on their biofilm-forming ability, and on their susceptibility to other antibiotics. Decreased permeability may have contributed to hyper-resistance, although evidence was inconclusive and variable between strains. Amikacin-resistant P. aeruginosa is able to gain in vitro hyper-resistance with minimal changes in the specific phenotypes that were tested; the ability to achieve high-level amikacin (AMK) resistance may confound the clinical utility of this aerosolized AMK, but clinical data would be required to assess this.
Keywords: Amikacin; Pseudomonas aeruginosa; antibiotic resistance; nebulized amikacin.