High-intensity Meropenem Combinations With Polymyxin B: New Strategies to Overcome Carbapenem Resistance in Acinetobacter Baumannii

J Antimicrob Chemother. 2017 Jan;72(1):153-165. doi: 10.1093/jac/dkw355. Epub 2016 Sep 15.


Objectives: The pharmacodynamics of polymyxin/carbapenem combinations against carbapenem-resistant Acinetobacter baumannii (CRAB) are largely unknown. Our objective was to determine whether intensified meropenem regimens in combination with polymyxin B enhance killing and resistance suppression of CRAB.

Methods: Time-kill experiments for meropenem and polymyxin B combinations were conducted against three polymyxin B-susceptible (MIC of polymyxin B = 0.5 mg/L) CRAB strains with varying meropenem MICs (ATCC 19606, N16870 and 03-149-1; MIC of meropenem = 4, 16 and 64 mg/L, respectively) at 108 cfu/mL. A hollow-fibre infection model was then used to simulate humanized regimens of polymyxin B and meropenem (2, 4, 6 and 8 g prolonged infusions every 8 h) versus N16870 at 108 cfu/mL over 14 days. New mathematical mechanism-based models were developed using S-ADAPT.

Results: Time-kill experiments were well described by the mathematical mechanism-based models, with the presence of polymyxin B drastically decreasing the meropenem concentration needed for half-maximal activity against meropenem-resistant populations from 438 to 82.1 (ATCC 19606), 158 to 93.6 (N16870) and 433 to 76.0 mg/L (03-149-1). The maximum killing effect of combination treatment was similar among all three strains despite divergent meropenem MIC values (Emax = 2.13, 2.08 and 2.15; MIC of meropenem = 4, 16 and 64 mg/L, respectively). Escalating the dose of meropenem in hollow-fibre combination regimens from 2 g every 8 h to 8 g every 8 h resulted in killing that progressed from a >2.5 log10 cfu/mL reduction with regrowth by 72 h (2 g every 8 h) to complete eradication by 336 h (8 g every 8 h).

Conclusion: Intensified meropenem dosing in combination with polymyxin B may offer a unique strategy to kill CRAB irrespective of the meropenem MIC.

MeSH terms

  • Acinetobacter baumannii / drug effects*
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / administration & dosage
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / pharmacology*
  • Humans
  • Meropenem
  • Microbial Sensitivity Tests
  • Microbial Viability / drug effects
  • Models, Theoretical
  • Polymyxin B / administration & dosage
  • Polymyxin B / pharmacology*
  • Thienamycins / administration & dosage
  • Thienamycins / pharmacology*
  • beta-Lactam Resistance*


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Thienamycins
  • Meropenem
  • Polymyxin B