Colistin methanesulfonate (CMS) is the only prodrug of colistin available for clinical use for the treatment of infections caused by multidrug-resistant(MDR) Gram-negative bacteria. Owing to its slow and variable release, an alternative is urgently required to improve effectiveness. Herein we describe a PEGylated colistin prodrug whereby the PEG is attached via a cleavable linker (col-aaPEG) introducing an acetic acid terminated poly (ethylene glycol) methyl ether (aaPEG) onto the Thr residue of colistin. Due to the labile ester containing link, this prodrug is converted back into active colistin in vitro within 24 h. Compared to CMS, it showed a similar or better antimicrobial performance against two MDR isolates of Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Acinetobacter baumannii through in vitro disk diffusion, broth dilution and time-kill studies. In a mouse infection model, col-aaPEG displayed acceptable bacterial killing against Paeruginosa ATCC 27853 and no nephrotoxicity was found after systemic administration, suggesting it to be a potential alternative for CMS.

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