Diagnostics (Basel). 2021 Jun 25;11(7):1165. doi: 10.3390/diagnostics11071165.
Klebsiella pneumoniae is a rod-shaped, encapsulated, Gram-negative bacteria associated with multiple nosocomial infections. Multidrug-resistant (MDR) K. pneumoniae strains have been increasing and the therapeutic options are increasingly limited. Colistin is a long-used, polycationic, heptapeptide that has regained attention due to its activity against Gram-negative bacteria, including the MDR K. pneumoniae strains. However, this antibiotic has a complex mode of action that is still under research along with numerous side-effects. The acquisition of colistin resistance is mainly associated with alteration of lipid A net charge through the addition of cationic groups synthesized by the gene products of a multi-genic regulatory network. Besides mutations in these chromosomal genes, colistin resistance can also be achieved through the acquisition of plasmid-encoded genes. Nevertheless, the diversity of molecular markers for colistin resistance along with some adverse colistin properties compromises the reliability of colistin-resistance monitorization methods. The present review is focused on the colistin action and molecular resistance mechanisms, along with specific limitations on drug susceptibility testing for K. pneumoniae.