Leung LM, McElheny CL, Gardner FM, Chandler CE, Bowler SL, Mettus RT, Spychala CN, Fowler EL, Opene BNA, Myers RA, Goodlett DR, Doi Y, Ernst RK. J Clin Microbiol. 2019 Feb 27;57(3). doi.org/10.1128/JCM.01100-18.
Acinetobacter baumannii is a prevalent nosocomial pathogen with a high incidence of multidrug resistance. Treatment of infections due to this organism with colistin, a last-resort antibiotic of the polymyxin class, can result in the emergence of colistin-resistant strains. Colistin resistance primarily occurs via modifications of the terminal phosphate moieties of lipopolysaccharide-derived lipid A, which reduces overall membrane electronegativity. These modifications are readily identified by mass spectrometry (MS). In this study, we prospectively collected Acinetobacter baumannii complex clinical isolates from a hospital system in Pennsylvania over a 3-year period. All isolates were evaluated for colistin resistance using standard MIC testing by both agar dilution and broth microdilution, as well as genospecies identification and lipid A profiling using MS analyses. Overall, an excellent correlation between colistin susceptibility and resistance, determined by MIC testing, and the presence of a lipid A modification, determined by MS, was observed with a sensitivity of 92.9% and a specificity of 94.0%. Additionally, glycolipid profiling was able to differentiate A. baumannii complex organisms based on their membrane lipids. With the growth of MS use in clinical laboratories, a reliable MS-based glycolipid phenotyping method that identifies colistin resistance in A. baumannii complex clinical isolates, as well as other Gram-negative organisms, represents an alternative or complementary approach to existing diagnostics.