To investigate the potential synergism of colistin in combination with N-acetylcysteine against Acinetobacter baumannii strains grown in planktonic phase or as biofilms.
Sixteen strains were investigated, including nine colistin-susceptible (MIC range 0.5-1 mg/L) and seven colistin-resistant (MIC range 16-256 mg/L) strains. Synergism of colistin in combination with N-acetylcysteine was investigated by chequerboard assays. The activity of colistin/N-acetylcysteine combinations was further evaluated by time-kill assays with planktonic cultures (three colistin-resistant strains and one colistin-susceptible strain) and by in vitro biofilm models (three colistin-resistant and three colistin-susceptible strains).
Chequerboard assays revealed a relevant synergism of colistin/N-acetylcysteine combinations with all colistin-resistant strains, whereas no synergism was observed with colistin-susceptible strains. Time-kill assays showed a concentration-dependent potentiation of colistin activity by N-acetylcysteine against colistin-resistant strains, with eradication of the culture by combinations of N-acetylcysteine at 8000 mg/L plus colistin at 2 or 8 mg/L. A static effect during the first 8 h of incubation was demonstrated with the colistin-susceptible strain exposed to 0.25 × MIC colistin plus 8000 mg/L N-acetylcysteine. A remarkable antibiofilm synergistic activity of 8 mg/L colistin plus 8000 mg/L N-acetylcysteine was demonstrated with all colistin-resistant and colistin-susceptible strains. The effects were greater with colistin-resistant strains (marked reduction of viable biofilm cells was observed at sub-MIC colistin concentrations).
N-acetylcysteine, at concentrations achievable by topical administration, was shown to revert the colistin-resistant phenotype in A. baumannii, and to exert a relevant activity against biofilms of colistin-susceptible and colistin-resistant A. baumannii strains.
- Acinetobacter baumannii
- In vitro synergism