BioScience Trends. 2017;11(4):370-382. (DOI: 10.5582/bst.2017.01188)

Intravenous polymyxins: Revival with puzzle.

Yu Y, Fei AH, Wu ZB, Gao CJ, Pan SM


With the increasing incidence of multi-drug resistant strains, especially carbapenem resistant strains, polymyxsins (mainly colistin and polymyxin B) based regimens seem to be a revival as an effective treatment of last resort in these infections. Evidence from 47 clinical trials or case series we reviewed showed that polymyxins based regimens are effective and have less toxicity compared with previous trials. When used alone, the mortality of intravenous polymyxsins ranged from 0% to 74.3%, clinical response (cure and improvement) rate was 7-82.1%, and microbiological eradication was 27.3-73.9%. The main reasons for the combination therapy are to get potential synergistic effects and to prevent the selection of heteroresistant strains. Several studies showed combination therapy seemed to be more effective than monotherapy, though a few doubts remain. Clinically, polymyxsins can be used in combination with several antibiotics, such as carberpenem, sulbactam, tigecycline, fosfomycin, glycopeptide, rifampicin and so on, but the optimal combination regimen is yet to be confirmed. The optimal dose of polymyxins is also controversial. With the limited clinical evidence, it's suggested loading dose regimens may be more effective, but more attention should be paid to adverse effects. Although recommended in some studies, high dose polymxins regimens with inconsistent clinical evidence need more trials to confirm. It is important to note that concerning dosing regimens, colistin and polymyxin B are not quite the same. In renal impaired patients polymyxin B should be prescribed without dosing adjustment. Risk of renal failure may increase in the following situations, such as the combination of intravenous colistin plus intravenous vancomycin, higher doses-colistin, and intravenous colistin combined with inhalational colistin. In conclusion, there're still controversies in combination regimens, dosing strategies and so on. Prospective trials of lager sample size are needed.

KEYWORDS: Intravenous, polymyxins, colistin, polymyxin B

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