Colistin is one of the last remaining active antibiotics against multidrug resistant Gram-negative bacteria. However, several recent studies reported colistin-resistant (ColR) Acinetobacter baumannii from different countries. In the current study, we investigated molecular mechanisms involved in colistin resistance in A. baumannii isolates from different clinical samples.
A total of 110 clinical A. baumannii isolates were collected from two hospitals in Tehran. Minimum inhibitory concentrations (MICs) were determined by broth microdilution according to the Clinical and Laboratory Standards Institute. For the ColR isolates, mutation was detected in pmrA, pmrB, lpxA, lpxC, and lpxD genes using the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and sequencing. Moreover, the relative expression of the pmrC gene was calculated using quantitative reverse transcription PCR. Three colistin resistant isolates were identified with MIC between 8 and 16 μg/mL and were resistant to all the tested antimicrobial agents. All the three isolates had a mutation in the pmrB, pmrA, lpxA, lpxD, and lpxC genes. Moreover, the overexpression of pmrC gene was observed in all isolates. Our results showed that the upregulation of the PmrAB two component system was the primary mechanism linked to colistin resistance among the studied colistin resistant A. baumannii isolates.