A challenging case of carbapenem resistant Klebsiella pneumoniae-related pyogenic liver abscess with capsular polysaccharide hyperproduction: a case report

BMC Infect Dis. 2024 Apr 23;24(1):433. doi: 10.1186/s12879-024-09314-z.


Background: Carbapenem-resistant Klebsiella pneumoniae (CRKP) infections are a major public health problem, necessitating the administration of polymyxin E (colistin) as a last-line antibiotic. Meanwhile, the mortality rate associated with colistin-resistant K. pneumoniae infections is seriously increasing. On the other hand, importance of administration of carbapenems in promoting colistin resistance in K. pneumoniae is unknown.

Case presentation: We report a case of K. pneumoniae-related pyogenic liver abscess in which susceptible K. pneumoniae transformed into carbapenem- and colistin-resistant K. pneumoniae during treatment with imipenem. The case of pyogenic liver abscess was a 50-year-old man with diabetes and liver transplant who was admitted to Abu Ali Sina Hospital in Shiraz. The K. pneumoniae isolate responsible for community-acquired pyogenic liver abscess was isolated and identified. The K. pneumoniae isolate was sensitive to all tested antibiotics except ampicillin in the antimicrobial susceptibility test and was identified as a non-K1/K2 classical K. pneumoniae (cKp) strain. Multilocus sequence typing (MLST) identified the isolate as sequence type 54 (ST54). Based on the patient's request, he was discharged to continue treatment at another center. After two months, he was readmitted due to fever and progressive constitutional symptoms. During treatment with imipenem, the strain acquired blaOXA-48 and showed resistance to carbapenems and was identified as a multidrug resistant (MDR) strain. The minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC) test for colistin was performed by broth microdilution method and the strain was sensitive to colistin (MIC < 2 µg/mL). Meanwhile, on blood agar, the colonies had a sticky consistency and adhered to the culture medium (sticky mucoviscous colonies). Quantitative real-time PCR and biofilm formation assay revealed that the CRKP strain increased capsule wzi gene expression and produced slime in response to imipenem. Finally, K. pneumoniae-related pyogenic liver abscess with resistance to a wide range of antibiotics, including the last-line antibiotics colistin and tigecycline, led to sepsis and death.

Conclusions: Based on this information, can we have a theoretical hypothesis that imipenem is a promoter of resistance to carbapenems and colistin in K. pneumoniae? This needs more attention.

Keywords: Klebsiella pneumoniae; Capsular polysaccharide; Carbapenem-resistant; Colistin; Pathogenesis.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents* / pharmacology
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents* / therapeutic use
  • Carbapenem-Resistant Enterobacteriaceae / drug effects
  • Carbapenem-Resistant Enterobacteriaceae / genetics
  • Carbapenem-Resistant Enterobacteriaceae / isolation & purification
  • Carbapenems* / pharmacology
  • Carbapenems* / therapeutic use
  • Colistin* / pharmacology
  • Colistin* / therapeutic use
  • Drug Resistance, Multiple, Bacterial / genetics
  • Humans
  • Imipenem / pharmacology
  • Imipenem / therapeutic use
  • Klebsiella Infections* / drug therapy
  • Klebsiella Infections* / microbiology
  • Klebsiella pneumoniae* / drug effects
  • Klebsiella pneumoniae* / genetics
  • Klebsiella pneumoniae* / isolation & purification
  • Liver Abscess, Pyogenic* / drug therapy
  • Liver Abscess, Pyogenic* / microbiology
  • Male
  • Microbial Sensitivity Tests*
  • Middle Aged
  • Multilocus Sequence Typing


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Carbapenems
  • Colistin
  • Imipenem