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Volume 51, Number 1, February 2018

Enhanced efficacy of imipenem-colistin combination therapy against multiple-drug-resistant Enterobacter cloacae: in vitro activity and a Galleria mellonella model

Haifei Yang, Guosheng Chen, Lifen Hu, Yanyan Liu, Jun Cheng, Ying Ye, Jiabin Li


Corresponding author:

Jiablin Lin, Corresponding author. Department of Infectious Diseases, The First Affiliated Hospital of Anhui Medical University, Jixi Road, Number 218, Hefei, China. 


Background and purpose: 

To investigate the in vitro and in vivo activity of imipenem-colistin combination against multidrug-resistant Enterobacter cloacae infections in order to determine whether it should be explored further.




The antimicrobial activity of colistin alone and in combination with imipenem was assessed versus an imipenem-susceptible isolate, E. cloacae GN1059, or an imipenem-resistant strain, E. cloacae GN0791, isolated in Anhui, China. The potential synergy of imipenem-colistin was evaluated using a checkerboard assay, as well as static time-kill experiments at 1× and 2× minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC). A simple invertebrate model (Galleria mellonella) was developed to assess the in vivo efficacy of imipenem-colistin in treating E. cloacae infection. 



In checkerboard assays, synergy (defined as a fractional inhibitory concentration index of ≤ 0.5) was observed between imipenem and colistin for both isolates tested. In time-kill assays, the combination of imipenem-colistin at 1× or 2× MIC resulted in complete killing of both strains. In the G. mellonella larvae model infected with lethal doses of E. cloacae, the combination therapy led to significantly increased survival of the larvae as compared with imipenem or colistin monotherapy alone (p < 0.05).




This is the first report demonstrating the efficacy of antimicrobial agents in the G. mellonella larvae model of infections caused by E. cloacae. Our study suggested that imipenem-colistin combination was highly active against E. cloacae both in vitro and in the simple invertebrate model, and provided preliminary in vivo evidence that such combination might be useful therapeutically. 


Key words:

antimicrobial synergy, colistin, drug resistance, imipenem, insect infection model