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Open Access Highly Accessed Review

Colistin: recent data on pharmacodynamics properties and clinical efficacy in critically ill patients

Argyris S Michalopoulos12 and Matthew E Falagas234*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Critical Care Medicine, Henry Dunant Hospital, Mesogeion 107, 11526 Athens, Greece

2 Alfa Institute of Biomedical Sciences (AIBS), 9 Neapoleos Street, 151 23 Marousi, Greece

3 Department of Medicine, Henry Dunant Hospital, Mesogeion 107, 11526 Athens, Greece

4 Department of Medicine, Tufts University School of Medicine, Boston, MA, USA

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Annals of Intensive Care 2011, 1:30  doi:10.1186/2110-5820-1-30

Published: 2 August 2011

Abstract

Recent clinical studies performed in a large number of patients showed that colistin "forgotten" for several decades revived for the management of infections due to multidrug-resistant (MDR) Gram-negative bacteria (GNB) and had acceptable effectiveness and considerably less toxicity than that reported in older publications. Colistin is a rapidly bactericidal antimicrobial agent that possesses a significant postantibiotic effect against MDR Gram-negative pathogens, such as Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Acinetobacter baumannii, and Klebsiella pneumoniae. The optimal colistin dosing regimen against MDR GNB is still unknown in the intensive care unit (ICU) setting. A better understanding of the pharmacokinetic-pharmacodynamic relationship of colistin is urgently needed to determine the optimal dosing regimen. Although pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic data in ICU patients are scarce, recent evidence shows that the pharmacokinetics/pharmacodynamics of colistimethate sodium and colistin in critically ill patients differ from those previously found in other groups, such as cystic fibrosis patients. The AUC:MIC ratio has been found to be the parameter best associated with colistin efficacy. To maximize the AUC:MIC ratio, higher doses of colistimethate sodium and alterations in the dosing intervals may be warranted in the ICU setting. In addition, the development of colistin resistance has been linked to inadequate colistin dosing. This enforces the importance of colistin dose optimization in critically ill patients. Although higher colistin doses seem to be beneficial, the lack of colistin pharmacokinetic-pharmacodynamic data results in difficulty for the optimization of daily colistin dose. In conclusion, although colistin seems to be a very reliable alternative for the management of life-threatening nosocomial infections due to MDR GNB, it should be emphasized that there is a lack of guidelines regarding the ideal management of these infections and the appropriate colistin doses in critically ill patients with and without multiple organ failure.