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Concept: Antibiotic


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


Antibiotics, though remarkably useful, can also cause certain adverse effects. We detected that treatment of adult mice with antibiotics decreases hippocampal neurogenesis and memory retention. Reconstitution with normal gut flora (SPF) did not completely reverse the deficits in neurogenesis unless the mice also had access to a running wheel or received probiotics. In parallel to an increase in neurogenesis and memory retention, both SPF-reconstituted mice that ran and mice supplemented with probiotics exhibited higher numbers of Ly6C(hi) monocytes in the brain than antibiotic-treated mice. Elimination of Ly6C(hi) monocytes by antibody depletion or the use of knockout mice resulted in decreased neurogenesis, whereas adoptive transfer of Ly6C(hi) monocytes rescued neurogenesis after antibiotic treatment. We propose that the rescue of neurogenesis and behavior deficits in antibiotic-treated mice by exercise and probiotics is partially mediated by Ly6C(hi) monocytes.

Concepts: Immune system, Psychology, Bacteria, Gut flora, Hippocampus, Antibiotic, Probiotic, Clostridium difficile


Manned space flight induces a reduction in immune competence among crew and is likely to cause deleterious changes to the composition of the gastrointestinal, nasal, and respiratory bacterial flora, leading to an increased risk of infection. The space flight environment may also affect the susceptibility of microorganisms within the spacecraft to antibiotics, key components of flown medical kits, and may modify the virulence characteristics of bacteria and other microorganisms that contaminate the fabric of the International Space Station and other flight platforms. This review will consider the impact of true and simulated microgravity and other characteristics of the space flight environment on bacterial cell behavior in relation to the potential for serious infections that may appear during missions to astronomical objects beyond low Earth orbit.

Concepts: Bacteria, Antibiotic, Microorganism, International Space Station, Space exploration, Human spaceflight, Spaceflight, Satellite


In 1958, doctors in Denver administered feces by enema to their patients with fulminant, life-threatening pseudomembranous enterocolitis.(1) The goal of this infusion of donor feces (also termed fecal microbiota transplantation [FMT]) was to “re-establish the balance of nature” within the intestinal flora to correct the disruption caused by antibiotic treatment. They reported “immediate and dramatic” responses and concluded that “this simple yet rational therapeutic method should be given more extensive clinical evaluation.” During the ensuing 50 years, the association between Clostridium difficile infection and pseudomembranous enterocolitis was established, and effective antimicrobial treatments were identified. Despite these advances, C. difficile became . . .

Concepts: Bacteria, Gut flora, Antibiotic, Metronidazole, Probiotic, Clostridium difficile, Pseudomembranous colitis, Clostridium


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


Antibiotic resistance is spreading faster than the introduction of new compounds into clinical practice, causing a public health crisis. Most antibiotics were produced by screening soil microorganisms, but this limited resource of cultivable bacteria was overmined by the 1960s. Synthetic approaches to produce antibiotics have been unable to replace this platform. Uncultured bacteria make up approximately 99% of all species in external environments, and are an untapped source of new antibiotics. We developed several methods to grow uncultured organisms by cultivation in situ or by using specific growth factors. Here we report a new antibiotic that we term teixobactin, discovered in a screen of uncultured bacteria. Teixobactin inhibits cell wall synthesis by binding to a highly conserved motif of lipid II (precursor of peptidoglycan) and lipid III (precursor of cell wall teichoic acid). We did not obtain any mutants of Staphylococcus aureus or Mycobacterium tuberculosis resistant to teixobactin. The properties of this compound suggest a path towards developing antibiotics that are likely to avoid development of resistance.

Concepts: Archaea, Bacteria, Staphylococcus aureus, Antibiotic resistance, Cell wall, Antibiotic, Microorganism, Penicillin


BACKGROUND: Over-prescribing of antibiotics is considered to result in increased morbidity and mortality from drug-resistant organisms. A resulting common wisdom is that it would be better for society if physicians would restrain their prescription of antibiotics. In this view, self-interest and societal interest are at odds, making antibiotic use a classic “tragedy of the commons”. METHODS AND FINDINGS: We developed two mathematical models of transmission of antibiotic resistance, featuring de novo development of resistance and transmission of resistant organisms. We analyzed the decision to prescribe antibiotics as a mathematical game, by analyzing individual incentives and community outcomes. CONCLUSIONS: A conflict of interest may indeed result, though not in all cases. Increased use of antibiotics by individuals benefits society under certain circumstances, despite the amplification of drug-resistant strains or organisms. In situations where increased use of antibiotics leads to less favorable outcomes for society, antibiotics may be harmful for the individual as well. For other scenarios, where a conflict between self-interest and society exists, restricting antibody use would benefit society. Thus, a case-by-case assessment of appropriate use of antibiotics may be warranted.

Concepts: Bacteria, Antibiotic resistance, Greek loanwords, Antibiotic, Microorganism, Individualism, Clostridium difficile, Antibiotics


Finding bacterial cellular targets for developing novel antibiotics has become a major challenge in fighting resistant pathogenic bacteria. We present a novel compound, Relacin, designed to inhibit (p)ppGpp production by the ubiquitous bacterial enzyme RelA that triggers the Stringent Response. Relacin inhibits RelA in vitro and reduces (p)ppGpp production in vivo. Moreover, Relacin affects entry into stationary phase in Gram positive bacteria, leading to a dramatic reduction in cell viability. When Relacin is added to sporulating Bacillus subtilis cells, it strongly perturbs spore formation regardless of the time of addition. Spore formation is also impeded in the pathogenic bacterium Bacillus anthracis that causes the acute anthrax disease. Finally, the formation of multicellular biofilms is markedly disrupted by Relacin. Thus, we establish that Relacin, a novel ppGpp analogue, interferes with bacterial long term survival strategies, placing it as an attractive new antibacterial agent.

Concepts: Bacteria, Microbiology, Pathogen, Bacillus, Antibiotic, Pathogenic bacteria, Anthrax, Bacteriology


BACKGROUND: Activation of the A2A adenosine receptor (A2AAR) decreases production of inflammatory cytokines, prevents C. difficile toxin A-induced enteritis and, in combination with antibiotics, increases survival from sepsis in mice. We investigated whether A2AAR activation improves and A2AAR deletion worsens outcomes in a murine model of C. difficile (strain VPI10463) infection (CDI). METHODS: C57BL/6 mice were pretreated with an antibiotic cocktail prior to infection and then treated with vancomycin with or without an A2AAR agonist. A2AAR-/- and littermate wild-type (WT) mice were similarly infected, and IFNgamma and TNFalpha were measured at peak of and recovery from infection. RESULTS: Infected, untreated mice rapidly lost weight, developed diarrhea, and had mortality rates of 50-60%. Infected mice treated with vancomycin had less weight loss and diarrhea during antibiotic treatment but mortality increased to near 100% after discontinuation of antibiotics. Infected mice treated with both vancomycin and an A2AAR agonist, either ATL370 or ATL1222, had minimal weight loss and better long-term survival than mice treated with vancomycin alone. A2AAR KO mice were more susceptible than WT mice to death from CDI. Increases in cecal IFNgamma and blood TNFalpha were pronounced in the absence of A2AARs. CONCLUSION: In a murine model of CDI, vancomycin treatment resulted in reduced weight loss and diarrhea during acute infection, but high recurrence and late-onset death, with overall mortality being worse than untreated infected controls. The administration of vancomycin plus an A2AAR agonist reduced inflammation and improved survival rates, suggesting a possible benefit of A2AAR agonists in the management of CDI to prevent recurrent disease.

Concepts: Infection, Antibiotic resistance, Vancomycin, Antibiotic, Metronidazole, Probiotic, Adenosine receptor, Clostridium difficile


For its remarkable ability to acquire antibiotic resistance and to survive in nosocomial environments, Acinetobacter baumannii has become a significant nosocomial infectious agent worldwide. Tigecycline is one of the few therapeutic options to treat infections caused by A. baumannii isolates. However, tigecycline resistance has been increasingly reported. Our aim was to assess the prevalence and characteristics of efflux-based tigecycline resistance in clinical isolates of A. baumannii collected from a hospital in China. A total of 74 A. baumannii isolates including 64 tigecycline non-susceptible A. baumannii (TNAB) and 10 tigecycline susceptible A. baumannii (TSAB) isolates were analyzed. The majority of them were detected to be positive for adeABC, adeRS, adeIJK and abeM, while the adeE gene was found in only one TSAB isolate. Compared with TSAB isolates, the mean expression level of adeB, adeJ, adeG and abeM in TNAB isolates were observed to increase by 29-, 3-, 0.7- and 1-fold, respectively. The efflux pump inhibitors (EPIs) PAβN and carbonyl cyanide 3-chlorophenylhydrazone (CCCP) could partially reverse the resistance pattern of tigecycline. Moreover, tetX1 gene was detected in 12 (18.8%) TNAB isolates. To our knowledge, this is the first report that tetX1 gene was detected in the A. baumannii isolates. ST208 and ST191 which both clustered into clonal complex 92 (CC92) were the predominant sequence types (STs). This study showed that active efflux pump AdeABC appeared to play important roles in the tigecycline resistance of A. baumannii. The dissemination of TNAB isolates in our hospital is mainly attributable to the spread of CC92.

Concepts: Nosocomial infection, Antibiotic resistance, Antibiotic, Pseudomonadales, Acinetobacter baumannii, Acinetobacter, Tigecycline, Efflux