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Concept: Antibiotic resistance


The recent discovery of a plasmid-borne colistin resistance gene, mcr-1, heralds the emergence of truly pan-drug resistant bacteria (1).….

Concepts: DNA, Gene, Bacteria, Genome, Antibiotic resistance, Escherichia coli, Plasmid, Proteobacteria


Background Recurrent Clostridium difficile infection is difficult to treat, and failure rates for antibiotic therapy are high. We studied the effect of duodenal infusion of donor feces in patients with recurrent C. difficile infection. Methods We randomly assigned patients to receive one of three therapies: an initial vancomycin regimen (500 mg orally four times per day for 4 days), followed by bowel lavage and subsequent infusion of a solution of donor feces through a nasoduodenal tube; a standard vancomycin regimen (500 mg orally four times per day for 14 days); or a standard vancomycin regimen with bowel lavage. The primary end point was the resolution of diarrhea associated with C. difficile infection without relapse after 10 weeks. Results The study was stopped after an interim analysis. Of 16 patients in the infusion group, 13 (81%) had resolution of C. difficile-associated diarrhea after the first infusion. The 3 remaining patients received a second infusion with feces from a different donor, with resolution in 2 patients. Resolution of C. difficile infection occurred in 4 of 13 patients (31%) receiving vancomycin alone and in 3 of 13 patients (23%) receiving vancomycin with bowel lavage (P<0.001 for both comparisons with the infusion group). No significant differences in adverse events among the three study groups were observed except for mild diarrhea and abdominal cramping in the infusion group on the infusion day. After donor-feces infusion, patients showed increased fecal bacterial diversity, similar to that in healthy donors, with an increase in Bacteroidetes species and clostridium clusters IV and XIVa and a decrease in Proteobacteria species. Conclusions The infusion of donor feces was significantly more effective for the treatment of recurrent C. difficile infection than the use of vancomycin. (Funded by the Netherlands Organization for Health Research and Development and the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research; Netherlands Trial Register number, NTR1177 .).

Concepts: Bacteria, Gut flora, Antibiotic resistance, Antibiotic, Probiotic, Clostridium difficile, Diarrhea


There have been an increasing number of reports implicating Gammaproteobacteria often carrying genes of drug resistance from colonized sink traps to vulnerable hospitalized patients. However, the mechanism of transmission from the wastewater of the sink P-trap to patients remains poorly understood. Herein we report the use of a designated hand washing sink lab gallery to model dispersion of green fluorescent protein (GFP)- expressing Escherichia coli from sink wastewater to the surrounding environment. We found no dispersion of GFP-E.coli directly from the P-trap to the sink basin or surrounding countertop with coincident water flow from a faucet. However, when the GFP-E.coli were allowed to mature in the P-trap under conditions similar to a hospital environment a GFP-E.coli containing putative biofilm extended upward over seven days to reach the strainer. This subsequently resulted in droplet dispersion to the surrounding areas (<30 inches) during faucet operation. We also demonstrated that P-trap colonization could occur by retrograde transmission along a common pipe. We postulate that the organisms mobilize up to the strainer from the P-trap resulting in droplet dispersion rather than directly from the P-trap. This work helps to further define the mode of transmission of bacteria from a P-trap reservoir to a vulnerable hospitalized patient.Importance Many recent reports demonstrate that sink drain pipes become colonized with highly consequential multidrug resistant bacteria, which then result in hospital acquired infections. However, the mechanism of dispersal of bacteria from the sink to patients has not been fully elucidated. Through establishment of a unique sink gallery this work found that a staged mode of transmission involving biofilm growth from the lower pipe to the sink strainer and subsequent splatter to the bowl and surrounding area occurs rather than splatter directly from the water in the lower pipe. We have also demonstrated that bacterial transmission can occur via connections in wastewater plumbing to neighboring sinks. This work helps to more clearly define the mechanism and risk of transmission from a wastewater source to hospitalized patients in a world with increasingly antibiotic resistant bacteria which can thrive in wastewater environments and cause infections in vulnerable patients.

Concepts: Protein, Gene, Bacteria, Antibiotic resistance, Escherichia coli, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Plumbing, Sink


Antibiotic resistance genes (ARGs) are emerging contaminants posing a potential worldwide human health risk. Intensive animal husbandry is believed to be a major contributor to the increased environmental burden of ARGs. Despite the volume of antibiotics used in China, little information is available regarding the corresponding ARGs associated with animal farms. We assessed type and concentrations of ARGs at three stages of manure processing to land disposal at three large-scale (10,000 animals per year) commercial swine farms in China. In-feed or therapeutic antibiotics used on these farms include all major classes of antibiotics except vancomycins. High-capacity quantitative PCR arrays detected 149 unique resistance genes among all of the farm samples, the top 63 ARGs being enriched 192-fold (median) up to 28,000-fold (maximum) compared with their respective antibiotic-free manure or soil controls. Antibiotics and heavy metals used as feed supplements were elevated in the manures, suggesting the potential for coselection of resistance traits. The potential for horizontal transfer of ARGs because of transposon-specific ARGs is implicated by the enrichment of transposases-the top six alleles being enriched 189-fold (median) up to 90,000-fold in manure-as well as the high correlation (r(2) = 0.96) between ARG and transposase abundance. In addition, abundance of ARGs correlated directly with antibiotic and metal concentrations, indicating their importance in selection of resistance genes. Diverse, abundant, and potentially mobile ARGs in farm samples suggest that unmonitored use of antibiotics and metals is causing the emergence and release of ARGs to the environment.

Concepts: Medicine, Gene, Bacteria, Agriculture, Antibiotic resistance, Heavy metal music


Routine antimicrobial susceptibility testing (AST) can prevent deaths due to bacteria and reduce the spread of multi-drug-resistance, but cannot be regularly performed in resource-limited-settings due to technological challenges, high-costs, and lack of trained professionals. We demonstrate an automated and cost-effective cellphone-based 96-well microtiter-plate (MTP) reader, capable of performing AST without the need for trained diagnosticians. Our system includes a 3D-printed smartphone attachment that holds and illuminates the MTP using a light-emitting-diode array. An inexpensive optical fiber-array enables the capture of the transmitted light of each well through the smartphone camera. A custom-designed application sends the captured image to a server to automatically determine well-turbidity, with results returned to the smartphone in ~1 minute. We tested this mobile-reader using MTPs prepared with 17 antibiotics targeting Gram-negative bacteria on clinical isolates of Klebsiella pneumoniae, containing highly-resistant antimicrobial profiles. Using 78 patient isolate test-plates, we demonstrated that our mobile-reader meets the FDA-defined AST criteria, with a well-turbidity detection accuracy of 98.21%, minimum-inhibitory-concentration accuracy of 95.12%, and a drug-susceptibility interpretation accuracy of 99.23%, with no very major errors. This mobile-reader could eliminate the need for trained diagnosticians to perform AST, reduce the cost-barrier for routine testing, and assist in spatio-temporal tracking of bacterial resistance.

Concepts: Bacteria, Microbiology, Antibiotic resistance, Escherichia coli, Performance, Microorganism, Gram negative bacteria, Chloramphenicol


ABSTRACT Horizontal gene transfer (HGT) is largely responsible for increasing the incidence of antibiotic-resistant infections worldwide. While studies have focused on HGT in vivo, this work investigates whether the ability of pathogens to persist in the environment, particularly on touch surfaces, may also play an important role. Escherichia coli, virulent clone ST131, and Klebsiella pneumoniae harboring extended-spectrum-β-lactamase (ESBL) bla(CTX-M-15) and metallo-β-lactamase bla(NDM-1), respectively, exhibited prolonged survival on stainless steel, with approximately 10(4) viable cells remaining from an inoculum of 10(7) CFU per cm(2) after 1 month at 21°C. HGT of bla to an antibiotic-sensitive but azide-resistant recipient E. coli strain occurred on stainless steel dry touch surfaces and in suspension but not on dry copper. The conjugation frequency was approximately 10 to 50 times greater and occurred immediately, and resulting transconjugants were more stable with ESBL E. coli as the donor cell than with K. pneumoniae, but bla(NDM-1) transfer increased with time. Transconjugants also exhibited the same resistance profile as the donor, suggesting multiple gene transfer. Rapid death, inhibition of respiration, and destruction of genomic and plasmid DNA of both pathogens occurred on copper alloys accompanied by a reduction in bla copy number. Naked E. coli DNA degraded on copper at 21°C and 37°C but slowly at 4°C, suggesting a direct role for the metal. Persistence of viable pathogenic bacteria on touch surfaces may not only increase the risk of infection transmission but may also contribute to the spread of antibiotic resistance by HGT. The use of copper alloys as antimicrobial touch surfaces may help reduce infection and HGT. IMPORTANCE Horizontal gene transfer (HGT) conferring resistance to many classes of antimicrobials has resulted in a worldwide epidemic of nosocomial and community infections caused by multidrug-resistant microorganisms, leading to suggestions that we are in effect returning to the preantibiotic era. While studies have focused on HGT in vivo, this work investigates whether the ability of pathogens to persist in the environment, particularly on touch surfaces, may also play an important role. Here we show prolonged (several-week) survival of multidrug-resistant Escherichia coli and Klebsiella pneumoniae on stainless steel surfaces. Plasmid-mediated HGT of β-lactamase genes to an azide-resistant recipient E. coli strain occurred when the donor and recipient cells were mixed together on stainless steel and in suspension but not on copper surfaces. In addition, rapid death of both antibiotic-resistant strains and destruction of plasmid and genomic DNA were observed on copper and copper alloy surfaces, which could be useful in the prevention of infection spread and gene transfer.

Concepts: Gene, Genetics, Bacteria, Genome, Horizontal gene transfer, Antibiotic resistance, Escherichia coli, Bacterial conjugation


Innate Defense Regulators (IDRs) are short synthetic peptides that target the host innate immune system via an intracellular adaptor protein which functions at key signaling nodes. In this work, further details of the mechanism of action of IDRs have been discovered. The studies reported here show that the lead clinical IDR, SGX94, has broad-spectrum activity against Gram-negative and Gram-positive bacterial infections caused by intracellular or extracellular bacteria and also complements the actions of standard of care antibiotics. Based on in vivo and primary cell culture studies, this activity is shown to result from the primary action of SGX94 on tissue-resident cells and subsequent secondary signaling to activate myeloid-derived cells, resulting in enhanced bacterial clearance and increased survival. Data from non-clinical and clinical studies also show that SGX94 treatment modulates pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory cytokine levels, thereby mitigating the deleterious inflammatory consequences of innate immune activation. Since they act through host pathways to provide both broad-spectrum anti-infective capability as well as control of inflammation, IDRs are unlikely to be impacted by resistance mechanisms and offer potential clinical advantages in the fight against emerging and antibiotic resistant bacterial infections.

Concepts: Immune system, Inflammation, Bacteria, Microbiology, Virus, Innate immune system, Infection, Antibiotic resistance


Clostridium difficile causes antibiotic-associated diarrhea and pseudomembraneous colitis and is responsible for a large and increasing fraction of hospital-acquired infections. Fecal microbiota transplantation (FMT) is an alternate treatment option for recurrent C. difficile infection (RCDI) refractory to antibiotic therapy. It has recently been discussed favorably in the clinical and scientific communities and is receiving increasing public attention. However, short- and long-term health consequences of FMT remain a concern, as the effects of the transplanted microbiota on the patient remain unknown. To shed light on microbial events associated with RCDI and treatment by FMT, we performed fecal microbiota analysis by 16S rRNA gene amplicon pyrosequencing of 14 pairs of healthy donors and RCDI patients treated successfully by FMT. Post-FMT patient and healthy donor samples collected up to one year after FMT were studied longitudinally, including one post-FMT patient with antibiotic-associated relapse three months after FMT. This analysis allowed us not only to confirm prior reports that RCDI is associated with reduced diversity and compositional changes in the fecal microbiota, but also to characterize previously undocumented post-FMT microbiota dynamics. Members of the Streptococcaceae, Enterococcaceae, or Enterobacteriaceae were significantly increased and putative butyrate producers, such as Lachnospiraceae and Ruminococcaceae were significantly reduced in samples from RCDI patients before FMT as compared to post-FMT patient and healthy donor samples. RCDI patient samples showed more case-specific variations than post-FMT patient and healthy donor samples. However, none of the bacterial groups were invariably associated with RCDI or successful treatment by FMT. Overall microbiota compositions in post-FMT patients, specifically abundances of the above-mentioned Firmicutes, continued to change for at least 16 weeks after FMT, suggesting that full microbiota recovery from RCDI may take much longer than expected based on the disappearance of diarrheal symptoms immediately after FMT.

Concepts: Bacteria, Gut flora, Ribosomal RNA, Antibiotic resistance, 16S ribosomal RNA, Antibiotic, Clostridium difficile, Diarrhea


In 2015, scientists reported the emergence of the plasmid-encoded mcr-1 gene conferring bacterial resistance to the antibiotic colistin (1), signaling potential emergence of a pandrug-resistant bacterium. In May 2016, mcr-1-positive Escherichia coli was first isolated from a specimen from a U.S. patient (2) when a Pennsylvania woman was evaluated for a urinary tract infection. The urine culture and subsequent testing identified the gene in an extended-spectrum beta-lactamase (ESBL)-producing E. coli with reduced susceptibility to colistin. The patient had no international travel for approximately 1 year, no livestock exposure, and a limited role in meal preparation with store-bought groceries; however, she had multiple and repeated admissions to four medical facilities during 2016.

Concepts: Kidney, Bacteria, Evolution, Urinary tract infection, Urine, Antibiotic resistance, Escherichia coli, Proteobacteria


BACKGROUND: Beneficial mutations play an essential role in bacterial adaptation, yet little is known about their fitness effects across genetic backgrounds and environments. One prominent example of bacterial adaptation is antibiotic resistance. Until recently, the paradigm has been that antibiotic resistance is selected by the presence of antibiotics because resistant mutations confer fitness costs in antibiotic free environments. In this study we show that it is not always the case, documenting the selection and fixation of resistant mutations in populations of Escherichia coli B that had never been exposed to antibiotics but instead evolved for 2000 generations at high temperature (42.2[degree sign]C). RESULTS: We found parallel mutations within the rpoB gene encoding the beta subunit of RNA polymerase. These amino acid substitutions conferred different levels of rifampicin resistance. The resistant mutations typically appeared, and were fixed, early in the evolution experiment. We confirmed the high advantage of these mutations at 42.2[degree sign]C in glucose-limited medium. However, the rpoB mutations had different fitness effects across three genetic backgrounds and six environments. CONCLUSIONS: We describe resistance mutations that are not necessarily costly in the absence of antibiotics or compensatory mutations but are highly beneficial at high temperature and low glucose. Their fitness effects depend on the environment and the genetic background, providing glimpses into the prevalence of epistasis and pleiotropy.

Concepts: Gene, Genetics, Natural selection, Bacteria, Evolution, Virus, Antibiotic resistance, Escherichia coli