Cyclic polypeptide antibiotic from Bacillus colistinus. It is composed of Polymyxins E1 and E2 (or Colistins A, B, and C) which act as detergents on cell membranes. Colistin is less toxic than Polymyxin B, but otherwise similar; the methanesulfonate is used orally.
Oral LD50 in rats is 5450 mg/kg. Overdosage with colistimethate can cause neuromuscular blockade characterized by paresthesia, lethargy, confusion, dizziness, ataxia, nystagmus, disorders of speech and apnea. Respiratory muscle paralysis may lead to apnea, respiratory arrest and death.
For the treatment of acute or chronic infections due to sensitive strains of certain gram-negative bacilli, particularly Pseudomonas aeruginosa.