Skip to main content

Research Repository

Advanced Search

Studies on the stability and activity of polymyxin B solutions.

Saohin, Wipawee


Wipawee Saohin


R.M.E. Richards

R.B. Taylor


The correlation between the chemical stability and the microbiological activity of polymyxin B in phosphate buffer pH 6.0 and in proprietary eye drops was evaluated. High Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC) was used to quantify the amount of the main components in samples stored at 43,50,55 and 60°C for a period of 500 h. The data indicated that there are significant differences in chemical stability among the different proprietary eye drops. The accurate decomposition rate constants and shelf-lives (~o) at 4°C of two of the six formulated eye drops and the standard polymyxin B solution stored in glass containers at pH 6.0 were established. It was concluded that microbiological assay by agar diffusion was unsuitable for determining the activity of control polymyxin B in phosphate buffer and polymyxin B in eye drops. Killing time determinations for polymyxin B against cell suspensions of P. aeruginosa NCTC 6750 were consequently used. Thioglycollate broth containingp- aminobenzoic acid (PABA) 0.16 %w/v and magnesium sulphate 1 %w/v was used as an inactivating recovery medium. The effect of preservatives and of second antibacterials contained in the eye drops were tested individually and combined with polymyxin B. Thiomersal 0.001 %w/v, trimethoprim 0.02 %w/v and thiomersal 0.001 %w/v plus trimethoprim 0.02 %w/v did not have an effect on the activity of polymyxin B 2000 U/ml. Neomycin was an exception and at the concentrations in the range 0.0192 to 0.16 %w/v exhibited an antagonistic effect. Chemical interaction between polymyxin B and neomycin could not be detected and it was considered that the inhibitory effect of neomycin may be the result of competition between polymyxin B and neomycin for the same binding sites on the cell surface. Gentamicin is active against P. aeruginosa NCTC 6750 and at concentrations of 0.075 and 0.036 %w/v it exhibited an additive effect with polymyxin B 2000 U/ml against the test organism. The results obtained with the samples stored at 55°C for a period of 500 h demonstrated the critical effect of pH. At a pH of 6.0 microbiological activity and chemical stability appeared optimal. The chemical stability data of five eye drop samples correlated with microbiological activity data. Exceptions were polymyxin B in one eye drop sample and control polymyxin B. These extensively decomposed samples showed good antibacterial activity which appeared to result from the activity of decomposition products. Chemical stability data for standard polymyxin B solution at pH 6.0 also correlated to microbiological activity data over the temperature range of 92 - 115°C. The polymyxin B retained detectable microbiological activity when the amount of PB1 was greater than 20%. It is suggested that the decomposition products which occurred at these higher temperatures did not possess antibacterial activity.


SAOHIN, W. 1997. Studies on the stability and activity of polymyxin B solutions. Robert Gordon University, PhD thesis.

Thesis Type Thesis
Deposit Date May 2, 2011
Publicly Available Date May 2, 2011
Public URL
Award Date Sep 30, 1997


Downloadable Citations