Comparison of methods for the detection of in vitro synergy in multidrug-resistant gram-negative bacteria

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Background: The use of combined antibiotic therapy has become an option for infections caused by multidrug-resistant (MDR) bacteria. The time-kill (TK) assay is considered the gold standard method for the evaluation of in vitro synergy, but it is a time-consuming and expensive method. The purpose of this study was to evaluate two methods for testing in vitro antimicrobial combinations: the disk diffusion method through disk approximation (DA) and the agar gradient diffusion method via the MIC:MIC ratio. The TK assay was included as the gold standard. MDR Gram-negative clinical isolates (n = 62; 28 Pseudomonas aeruginosa, 20 Acinetobacter baumannii, and 14 Serratia marcescens) were submitted to TK, DA, and MIC:MIC ratio synergy methods. Results: Overall, the agreement between the DA and TK assays ranged from 20 to 93%. The isolates of A. baumannii showed variable results of synergism according to TK, and the calculated agreement was statistically significant in this species against fosfomycin with meropenem including colistin-resistant isolates. The MIC:MIC ratiometric agreed from 35 to 71% with TK assays. The kappa test showed good agreement for the combination of colistin with amikacin (K = 0.58; P = 0.04) among the colistin-resistant A. baumannii isolates. Conclusions: The DA and MIC:MIC ratiometric methods are easier to perform and might be a more viable tool for clinical microbiology laboratories.




Gaudereto, J. J., Neto, L. V. P., Leite, G. C., Espinoza, E. P. S., Martins, R. C. R., Villas Boa Prado, G., … Costa, S. F. (2020). Comparison of methods for the detection of in vitro synergy in multidrug-resistant gram-negative bacteria. BMC Microbiology, 20(1).

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