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1.  Panton-Valentine Leukocidin Is Not the Primary Determinant of Outcome for Staphylococcus aureus Skin Infections: Evaluation from the CANVAS Studies 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(5):e37212.
The impact of Panton-Valentine leukocidin (PVL) on the severity of complicated skin and skin structure infections (cSSSI) caused by Staphylococcus aureus is controversial. We evaluated potential associations between clinical outcome and PVL presence in both methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA) and methicillin-susceptible S. aureus (MSSA) isolates from patients enrolled in two large, multinational phase three clinical trials assessing ceftaroline fosamil for the treatment of cSSSI (the CANVAS 1 and 2 programs). Isolates from all microbiologically evaluable patients with monomicrobial MRSA or MSSA infections (n = 473) were genotyped by PCR for pvl and underwent pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE). Genes encoding pvl were present in 266/473 (56.2%) isolates. Infections caused by pvl-positive S. aureus were associated with younger patient age, North American acquisition, and presence of major abscesses (P<0.001 for each). Cure rates of patients infected with pvl-positive and pvl-negative S. aureus were similar overall (93.6% versus 92.8%; P = 0.72), and within MRSA-infected (94.5% vs. 93.1%; P = 0.67) and MSSA-infected patients (92.2% vs. 92.7%; P = 1.00). This finding persisted after adjustment for multiple patient characteristics. Outcomes were also similar when USA300 PVL+ and non-USA300 PVL+ infections were compared. The results of this contemporary, international study suggest that pvl presence was not the primary determinant of outcome in patients with cSSSI due to either MRSA or MSSA.
PMCID: PMC3356380  PMID: 22623995
2.  Staphylococcus aureus Panton-Valentine Leukocidin Contributes to Inflammation and Muscle Tissue Injury 
PLoS ONE  2009;4(7):e6387.
Community-associated methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (CA-MRSA) threatens public health worldwide, and epidemiologic data suggest that the Panton-Valentine Leukocidin (PVL) expressed by most CA-MRSA strains could contribute to severe human infections, particularly in young and immunocompetent hosts. PVL is proposed to induce cytolysis or apoptosis of phagocytes. However, recent comparisons of isogenic CA-MRSA strains with or without PVL have revealed no differences in human PMN cytolytic activity. Furthermore, many of the mouse studies performed to date have failed to demonstrate a virulence role for PVL, thereby provoking the question: does PVL have a mechanistic role in human infection? In this report, we evaluated the contribution of PVL to severe skin and soft tissue infection. We generated PVL mutants in CA-MRSA strains isolated from patients with necrotizing fasciitis and used these tools to evaluate the pathogenic role of PVL in vivo. In a model of necrotizing soft tissue infection, we found PVL caused significant damage of muscle but not the skin. Muscle injury was linked to induction of pro-inflammatory chemokines KC, MIP-2, and RANTES, and recruitment of neutrophils. Tissue damage was most prominent in young mice and in those strains of mice that more effectively cleared S. aureus, and was not significant in older mice and mouse strains that had a more limited immune response to the pathogen. PVL mediated injury could be blocked by pretreatment with anti-PVL antibodies. Our data provide new insights into CA-MRSA pathogenesis, epidemiology and therapeutics. PVL could contribute to the increased incidence of myositis in CA-MRSA infection, and the toxin could mediate tissue injury by mechanisms other than direct killing of phagocytes.
PMCID: PMC2711303  PMID: 19633710
3.  Presence of Genes Encoding Panton-Valentine Leukocidin Is Not the Primary Determinant of Outcome in Patients with Hospital-Acquired Pneumonia Due to Staphylococcus aureus 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2012;50(3):848-856.
The impact of Panton-Valentine leukocidin (PVL) on the outcome in Staphylococcus aureus pneumonia is controversial. We genotyped S. aureus isolates from patients with hospital-acquired pneumonia (HAP) enrolled in two registrational multinational clinical trials for the genetic elements carrying pvl and 30 other virulence genes. A total of 287 isolates (173 methicillin-resistant S. aureus [MRSA] and 114 methicillin-susceptible S. aureus [MSSA] isolates) from patients from 127 centers in 34 countries for whom clinical outcomes of cure or failure were available underwent genotyping. Of these, pvl was detected by PCR and its product confirmed in 23 isolates (8.0%) (MRSA, 18/173 isolates [10.4%]; MSSA, 5/114 isolates [4.4%]). The presence of pvl was not associated with a higher risk for clinical failure (4/23 [17.4%] versus 48/264 [18.2%]; P = 1.00) or mortality. These findings persisted after adjustment for multiple potential confounding variables. No significant associations between clinical outcome and (i) presence of any of the 30 other virulence genes tested, (ii) presence of specific bacterial clone, (iii) levels of alpha-hemolysin, or (iv) delta-hemolysin production were identified. This study suggests that neither pvl presence nor in vitro level of alpha-hemolysin production is the primary determinant of outcome among patients with HAP caused by S. aureus.
PMCID: PMC3295120  PMID: 22205797
4.  Molecular Epidemiology of Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus Isolates from Patients Newly Identified as Nasal Carriers 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2012;50(10):3283-3286.
We aimed to determine whether additional molecular and microbiological evaluations of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) isolated from patients newly identified as nasal carriers were useful for control strategies and whether longitudinal testing during the same or repeat hospitalization changed MRSA status. Nasal swabs from patients positive by Xpert MRSA PCR and not known to be colonized in the previous year were cultured for S. aureus. Isolates were tested for resistance to a variety of antibiotics, including high-level mupirocin resistance (HLMR) and low-level mupirocin resistance (LLMR) and the presence of genes mecA and mupA and those for Panton-Valentine leukocidin (PVL), USA300, and USA400. Repeat nasal screens during the 6-month study were tested for continued presence of MRSA. Among 130 patients, cultures revealed MRSA in 85 (65.4%), methicillin-susceptible S. aureus in 19 (14.6%), and no growth in 26 (20%). MRSA isolates were USA300 positive in 13/85 (15.3%) and LLMR in 8/85 (9.4%) patients. No isolates were HLMR or mupA positive. mecA dropout was detected in 9/130 (6.9%) patients. The rate of subsequent MRSA infections in USA300-positive versus -negative patients was not different. MRSA nasal status remained concordant in 69/70 (98.6%) patients who had follow-up testing. The findings do not support expanding MRSA surveillance to include routine detection of genes for USA300, PVL, or mupA, all of which were either of low frequency or not significantly associated with MRSA infection risk in our population of newly identified nasal carriers. Repeat nasal screening for MRSA during the same or subsequent hospitalizations over 6 months could also be deferred, reducing costs associated with screening.
PMCID: PMC3457428  PMID: 22837329
5.  High levels of antibody to Panton-Valentine leukocidin are not associated with resistance to Staphylococcus aureus skin and soft tissue infection 
Community-associated methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (CA-MRSA) expressing Panton-Valentine Leukocidin (PVL) cause severe skin and soft tissue infections (SSTI), necrotizing pneumonia and other invasive infections. PVL toxin has been implicated as a virulence factor and antibody to a component of this toxin is under investigation as a vaccine candidate. The role of PVL in pathogenesis remains controversial and it is unknown if human serum antibody to PVL modulates infection.
We determined antibody levels to PVL in sera from children aged 0-18 years presenting with PCR-confirmed PVL-positive MRSA SSTI with or without prior MRSA infection or SSTI, PVL-positive MRSA invasive infections, PVL-negative MRSA infections and uninfected controls. We also measured antibody-mediated neutralization of PVL-induced lysis of human polymorphonuclear cells.
Antibody to PVL was present in healthy children reaching adult levels by 4-6 years with a nadir at 4-6 months likely due to loss of maternal antibody. Children with a primary PVL-positive MRSA infection had moderate levels of antibody to PVL that increased following infection. Children with prior MRSA or SSTI infections had high levels of antibody to PVL at the onset of infection. There was no increase in antibody to PVL in this populations’ sera after the onset of infection. Sera from children with PVL-positive MRSA SSTIs, particularly those with prior MRSA or SSTI, and convalescent sera from children with invasive PVL-positive MRSA infection, potently inhibited PVL-induced lysis of PMNs.
Neutralizing antibody to PVL does not protect children against primary or recurrent CA-MRSA SSTI.
PMCID: PMC2962716  PMID: 20946065
Staphylococcus aureus; MRSA; Panton-Valentine leukocidin; antibody
6.  Panton–Valentine Leukocidin-Positive Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus Infections in Children With Cancer 
Pediatric blood & cancer  2009;53(7):1216-1220.
New strains of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) which frequently carry the Panton–Valentine leukocidin (PVL) genes have been recognized to cause invasive infections in otherwise healthy children and adults. However, the epidemiology of PVL-positive MRSA infections has not been described in children or adults with cancer.
The epidemiology of MRSA infections in patients with cancer was retrospectively studied from 2000 to 2007. Molecular typing was performed by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) for the detection of the PVL genes. Staphylococcus cassette chromosome (SCC) mec and spa typing was performed on all PVL-positive isolates.
A total of 88 MRSA isolates from clinically distinct infectious episodes were collected from 88 patients with cancer during the 8-year study period. Infections were predominant in the skin and soft tissues (SSTI; P =0.0003). PVL-positive isolates, bearing the type IV SCCmec element, encoding the gene for methicillin resistance, increased significantly during this period (P =0.043) and comprised 35 of 88 (40%) MRSA isolates. Of these 35 isolates, 32 belonged to spa type 8 and were USA300 genotype. Patients infected with PVL-positive strains did not have more SSTI (P =0.166) or bacteremia (P =0.510) as compared to patients with PVL-negative strains. A greater percentage of PVL-positive isolates were susceptible to ciprofloxacin (P =0.006).
PVL-positive MRSA infections are not associated with a higher morbidity as compared to PVL-negative MRSA infections in children with cancer.
PMCID: PMC3075015  PMID: 19731325
cancer; children; methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus; Panton-Valentine leukocidin
7.  Genotypic Characteristics of Staphylococcus aureus Isolates from a Multinational Trial of Complicated Skin and Skin Structure Infections▿ † 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2007;46(2):678-684.
The impact of bacterial genetic characteristics on the outcome of patients with Staphylococcus aureus infections is uncertain. This investigation evaluated potential associations between bacterial genotype and clinical outcome using isolates collected as part of an international phase 2 clinical trial (FAST II) evaluating telavancin for the treatment of complicated skin and skin structure infections (cSSSI). Ninety S. aureus isolates from microbiologically evaluable patients with cSSSI enrolled in the FAST II trial from 11 sites in the United States (56 isolates, or 62%) and 7 sites in South Africa (34 isolates, or 38%) were examined for staphylococcal cassette chromosome mec, agr, and the presence of 31 virulence genes and subjected to pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE). South African methicillin-susceptible S. aureus (MSSA) isolates were more likely to carry certain virulence genes, including sdrD (P = 0.01), sea (P < 0.01), and pvl (P = 0.01). All 44 (49%) methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA) isolates were from the United States; 37 (84%) were strain USA 300 by PFGE. In the United States, MRSA isolates were more likely than MSSA isolates to carry genes for sdrC (P = 0.03), map/eap (P = 0.05), fnbB (P = 0.11), tst (P = 0.02), sea (P = 0.04), sed (P = 0.04), seg (P = 0.11), sej (P = 0.11), agr (P = 0.09), V8 (P = 0.06), sdrD, sdrE, eta, etb, and see (P < 0.01 for all). MRSA isolates were more often clonal than MSSA isolates by PFGE. Isolates from patients who were cured were significantly more likely to contain the pvl gene than isolates from patients that failed or had indeterminate outcomes (79/84 [94%] versus 3/6 [50%]; P = 0.01). S. aureus strains from different geographic regions have different distributions of virulence genes.
PMCID: PMC2238106  PMID: 18077636
8.  Distinct Bacteriophages Encoding Panton-Valentine Leukocidin (PVL) among International Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus Clones Harboring PVL▿ 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2011;49(2):684-692.
Genetically diverse community-associated methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (CA-MRSA) can harbor a bacteriophage encoding Panton-Valentine leukocidin (PVL) lysogenized into its chromosome (prophage). Six PVL phages (ΦPVL, Φ108PVL, ΦSLT, ΦSa2MW, ΦSa2USA, and ΦSa2958) are known, and single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in the PVL genes have been reported. We sought to determine the distribution of lysogenized PVL phages among MRSA strains with PVL (PVL-MRSA strains), the PVL gene sequences, and the chromosomal phage insertion sites in 114 isolates comprising nine clones of PVL-MRSA that were selected for maximal underlying genetic diversity. The six PVL phages were identified by PCR; ΦSa2USA was present in the highest number of different lineages (multilocus sequence type clonal complex 1 [CC1], CC5, CC8, and sequence type 93 [ST93]) (n = 37 isolates). Analysis of 92 isolates confirmed that PVL phages inserted into the same chromosomal insertion locus in CC22, -30, and -80 but in a different locus in isolates of CC1, -5, -8, -59, and -88 and ST93 (and CC22 in two isolates). Within the two different loci, specific attachment motifs were found in all cases, although some limited inter- and intralineage sequence variation occurred. Overall, lineage-specific relationships between the PVL phage, the genes that encode the toxin, and the position at which the phage inserts into the host chromosome were identified. These analyses provide important insights into the microepidemiology of PVL-MRSA, will prove a valuable adjunct in outbreak investigation, and may help predict the emergence of new strains.
PMCID: PMC3043515  PMID: 21106787
9.  Differences in Clinical and Molecular Characteristics of Skin and Soft Tissue Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus Isolates between Two Hospitals in Northern California▿  
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2007;45(6):1798-1803.
Community-onset methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (CO-MRSA) skin and soft tissue infections (SSTI) are associated with SCCmec IV and Panton-Valentine leukocidin (PVL) genes. CO-MRSA epidemiologic studies suggest that genotypic variation exists within one geographic region. We compared MRSA genotypes and demographic and clinical characteristics of patients with CO-MRSA SSTI between two regional medical centers. We also examined factors associated with SCCmec IV and PVL carriage. A total of 279 MRSA SSTI isolates from 2000 to 2002 at San Francisco General Hospital (SFGH) and Stanford University Hospital (SUH) were genotyped by pulsed-field gel electrophoresis and PCR for SCCmec and PVL genes. Medical records were reviewed for clinical characteristics. Ninety-three percent and 69% of MRSA SSTI were caused by CO-MRSA at SFGH and SUH, respectively. Patients with CO-MRSA SSTI at SFGH were more likely to be nonwhite, younger, homeless, and have no previous exposure to health care (P < 0.01). SFGH CO-MRSA strains were more likely to carry SCCmec type IV and PVL genes (90% and 55%, respectively) than SUH strains (29% and 16%, respectively). In multivariate analyses, nonwhite ethnicity was associated with both SCCmec type IV and PVL carriage (odds ratio [OR] of 2.65 and 95% confidence interval [CI] of 1.19 to 5.95 and OR of 1.94 and 95% CI of 1.03 to 3.65, respectively). ST8:USA300:IV became the dominant clone at SFGH, but not at SUH, by 2002. Despite geographic proximity, CO-MRSA SSTI exhibited differing SCCmec types, PVL carriage, and clonal dynamics. CO-MRSA SSTI at SUH were more likely to represent feral isolates of nosocomial origin. Clinicians should assess for nosocomial and community risk factors, realizing that different populations with CO-MRSA SSTI may require separate antimicrobial strategies.
PMCID: PMC1933023  PMID: 17409211
10.  Short Communication: Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus Infections in Children and Young Adults Infected with HIV 
AIDS Research and Human Retroviruses  2009;25(12):1219-1224.
The epidemiology of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infections, in particular with Panton-Valentine leukocidin (PVL)-positive strains, has not been well characterized in children and young adults with HIV infection. It is not known if PVL-positive strains of MRSA cause an increased morbidity in this population compared to PVL-negative strains. The purpose of this study was to retrospectively analyze the epidemiology of PVL-positive and PVL-negative MRSA infections in children and young adults with HIV from 2000 to 2007. Molecular typing was performed by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) for detection of the PVL genes. Staphylococcus Cassette Chromosome (SCC) mec and spa typing were performed on all PVL-positive isolates. The number of HIV patients with MRSA infection increased significantly between 2000 and 2007 (p = 0.0015). Twenty seven (87%) of the 31 MRSA isolates were from skin and soft tissue infections (SSTI). Clindamycin resistance was observed in 19% of the MRSA isolates. PVL-positive isolates bearing the type IV SCC mec element comprised 16 of 31 (52%) MRSA isolates. All the PVL-positive isolates belonged to the USA300 pulsed-field type. There was no difference in the mean CD4 count and HIV viral load between patients with PVL-positive and PVL-negative MRSA infections. PVL-positive MRSA infections were associated with more SSTI (p = 0.043) but not with increased morbidity or a higher risk of complications compared to PVL-negative MRSA infections in children and young adults with HIV.
PMCID: PMC2858900  PMID: 20001313
11.  A review of telavancin in the treatment of complicated skin and skin structure infections (cSSSI) 
Telavancin is a novel antibiotic being investigated for the treatment of serious infections caused by Gram-positive bacteria, including complicated skin and skin structure infections (cSSSI) and pneumonia. This once-daily intravenous lipoglycopeptide exerts rapid bactericidal activity via a dual mechanism of action. It is intended for use to combat infections caused by Staphylococcus aureus and other Gram-positive bacteria, including methicillin-resistant and vancomycin-intermediate strains of S. aureus (MRSA and VISA, respectively). Vancomycin is the current gold standard in treating serious infections caused by Gram-positive bacteria, especially MRSA. In recent clinical trials, telavancin has shown excellent efficacy in phase II and III multinational, randomized, double-blinded studies of cSSSI. In the phase II FAST 2 study, which compared telavancin 10 mg/kg intravenously q 24 h vs standard therapy (an antistaphylococcal penicillin at 2 g IV q 6 h or vancomycin 1 gm IV q 12 h), the clinical success rate in the telavancin-treated group was 96% vs 94% in the standard therapy group. In two identical phase III trials comparing telavancin versus vancomycin at the doses of the FAST 2 study for cSSSI, the clinical cure rates were 88.3% and 87.1%, respectively. Two additional phase III clinical trials investigating telavancin for use in hospital-acquired pneumonia, caused by Gram-positive bacteria are currently ongoing. Telavancin is currently under regulatory review in both the United States and Europe for the indication of treatment of cSSSI.
PMCID: PMC2503659  PMID: 18728713
telavancin; vancomycin; MRSA
12.  Contribution of Panton-Valentine Leukocidin in Community-Associated Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus Pathogenesis 
PLoS ONE  2008;3(9):e3198.
Community-associated methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (CA-MRSA) strains typically carry genes encoding Panton-Valentine leukocidin (PVL). We used wild-type parental and isogenic PVL-deletion (Δpvl) strains of USA300 (LAC and SF8300) and USA400 (MW2) to test whether PVL alters global gene regulatory networks and contributes to pathogenesis of bacteremia, a hallmark feature of invasive staphylococcal disease. Microarray and proteomic analyses revealed that PVL does not alter gene or protein expression, thereby demonstrating that any contribution of PVL to CA-MRSA pathogenesis is not mediated through interference of global gene regulatory networks. Inasmuch as a direct role for PVL in CA-MRSA pathogenesis remains to be determined, we developed a rabbit bacteremia model of CA-MRSA infection to evaluate the effects of PVL. Following experimental infection of rabbits, an animal species whose granulocytes are more sensitive to the effects of PVL compared with the mouse, we found a contribution of PVL to pathogenesis over the time course of bacteremia. At 24 and 48 hours post infection, PVL appears to play a modest, but measurable role in pathogenesis during the early stages of bacteremic seeding of the kidney, the target organ from which bacteria were not cleared. However, the early survival advantage of this USA300 strain conferred by PVL was lost by 72 hours post infection. These data are consistent with the clinical presentation of rapid-onset, fulminant infection that has been associated with PVL-positive CA-MRSA strains. Taken together, our data indicate a modest and transient positive effect of PVL in the acute phase of bacteremia, thereby providing evidence that PVL contributes to CA-MRSA pathogenesis.
PMCID: PMC2527530  PMID: 18787708
13.  The Panton–Valentine leukocidin vaccine protects mice against lung and skin infections caused by Staphylococcus aureus USA300 
Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus is increasingly responsible for staphylococcal infections in the community. A large percentage of the community-acquired methicillin-resistant (CA-MRSA) strains in the USA produce Panton–Valentine leukocidin (PVL), which is associated with severe infections. The virulence of the clinical CA-MRSA strain USA300 was compared to that of its isogenic pvl-deleted mutant, and it was shown that PVL contributes to lung and muscle tissue destruction, respectively, in murine necrotizing pneumonia and skin infection models. Mice infected with the USA300 strain developed a dominant anti-PVL response. The PVL subunits were therefore tested as vaccinogens against this isolate, and their vaccine efficacy correlated with both the route of vaccination and infection. These data suggest that PVL is a virulence factor in murine CA-MRSA infections.
PMCID: PMC2657196  PMID: 19154186
CA-MRSA; Panton–Valentine leukocidin; Staphylococcus aureus
14.  Community-acquired necrotizing pneumonia due to methicillin-sensitive Staphylococcus aureus secreting Panton-Valentine leukocidin: a review of case reports 
Community-acquired necrotizing pneumonia caused by Panton-Valentine leukocidin (PVL)-secreting Staphylococcus aureus is a highly lethal infection that mainly affects healthy children and young adults. Both methicillin-sensitive S. aureus (MSSA) and methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA) may carry the PVL-phage, but the majority of publications relate to community-associated methicillin-resistant S. aureus (CA-MRSA) or mixed patient groups. This study focuses on necrotizing pneumonia due to methicillin-sensitive S. aureus strains, with the purpose to determine factors associated with outcome.
We report a patient with PVL secreting MSSA necrotizing pneumonia and performed a systematic review of similar case in the literature. We analyzed factors associated with outcome.
A total of 32 patient descriptions were retained for analysis. Septic shock (p = 0.007), influenza-like prodrome (p = 0.02), and the absence of a previous skin and soft-tissue infection (p = 0.024) were associated with fatal outcome. In multivariate analysis, influenza-like prodrome (odds ratio (OR), 7.44; 95% confidence interval (CI), 1.24-44.76; p = 0.028) and absence of previous skin and soft-tissue infection (OR, 0.09; 95% CI, 0.01-0.86; p = 0.036) remained significant predictors of death.
Influenza-like prodrome may be predictive of adverse outcome in PVL-secreting MSSA necrotizing pneumonia. In contrast, previous skin and soft-tissue infection may be associated with improved prognosis.
PMCID: PMC3259061  PMID: 22192614
15.  Extensive Dissemination of Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) between the Hospital and the Community in a Country with a High Prevalence of Nosocomial MRSA 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(4):e59960.
According to the EARS-Net surveillance data, Portugal has the highest prevalence of nosocomial methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) in Europe, but the information on MRSA in the community is very scarce and the links between the hospital and community are not known. In this study we aimed to understand the events associated to the recent sharp increase in MRSA frequency in Portugal and to evaluate how this has shaped MRSA epidemiology in the community. With this purpose, 180 nosocomial MRSA isolates recovered from infection in two time periods and 14 MRSA isolates recovered from 89 samples of skin and soft tissue infections (SSTI) were analyzed by pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE), staphylococcal chromosome cassette mec (SCCmec) typing, spa typing and multilocus sequence typing (MLST). All isolates were also screened for the presence of Panton Valentine leukocidin (PVL) and arginine catabolic mobile element (ACME) by PCR. The results showed that ST22-IVh, accounting for 72% of the nosocomial isolates, was the major clone circulating in the hospital in 2010, having replaced two previous dominant clones in 1993, the Iberian (ST247-I) and Portuguese (ST239-III variant) clones. Moreover in 2010, three clones belonging to CC5 (ST105-II, ST125-IVc and ST5-IVc) accounted for 20% of the isolates and may represent the beginning of new waves of MRSA in this hospital. Interestingly, more than half of the MRSA isolates (8/14) causing SSTI in people attending healthcare centers in Portugal belonged to the most predominant clones found in the hospital, namely ST22-IVh (n = 4), ST5-IVc (n = 2) and ST105-II (n = 1). Other clones found included ST5-V (n = 6) and ST8-VI (n = 1). None of the MRSA isolates carried PVL and only five isolates (ST5-V-t179) carried ACME type II. The emergence and spread of EMRSA-15 may be associated to the observed increase in MRSA frequency in the hospital and the consequent spillover of MRSA into the community.
PMCID: PMC3617237  PMID: 23593155
16.  Immune-Activating Properties of Panton-Valentine Leukocidin Improve the Outcome in a Model of Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus Pneumonia 
Infection and Immunity  2012;80(8):2894-2904.
The Panton-Valentine leukocidin (PVL) is a cytotoxin expressed by many methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) strains that cause community-acquired infections (CA-MRSA). Its role in virulence however, is controversial, with clinical data suggesting that PVL-producing strains may cause less severe disease in humans. PVL is capable of lysing human white blood cells, but at sublytic amounts, PVL can activate protective host immunity in the absence of cell damage. The concentration-dependent reactions it elicits from host cells could be the reason for seemingly contradictory results about PVL's role in virulence. We hypothesized that a key to understanding PVL's action on host cells and, possibly, outcomes from infection is the amount of toxin present, a hypothesis previously supported in studies using a low-inoculum skin infection model, where low levels of PVL augmented innate immune resistance to infection. Here, we present additional data supporting this hypothesis using a mouse model of MRSA pneumonia, wherein we found increased virulence of isogenic Δpvl strains and further confirmed PVL's capacity to activate proinflammatory responses from mouse and human neutrophils and pulmonary cells. Activation was measured as the production of phosphorylated p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) and proinflammatory cytokines interleukin-8 (IL-8) and KC (from human and mouse cells, respectively), as well as the release of antibacterial factors. Conversely, PVL lowered the levels of tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α) produced in active pulmonary infection, while low doses induced apoptosis, suggesting that PVL also has the capacity to regulate inflammation. Our data indicate that, independent of its cytotoxic effects, PVL also plays an important and positive immunomodulatory role during MRSA infections.
PMCID: PMC3434579  PMID: 22665379
17.  Cooccurrence of Predominant Panton-Valentine Leukocidin-Positive Sequence Type (ST) 152 and Multidrug-Resistant ST 241 Staphylococcus aureus Clones in Nigerian Hospitals▿  
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2009;47(9):3000-3003.
Ninety-six clinical isolates of Staphylococcus aureus from Nigeria were characterized phenotypically and genetically. Twelve multidrug-resistant methicillin (meticillin)-resistant S. aureus (MRSA) isolates carrying a new staphylococcal cassette chromosome mec element and a high proportion of Panton-Valentine leukocidin (PVL)-positive methicillin-susceptible S. aureus (MSSA) isolates were observed. The cooccurrence of multidrug-resistant MRSA and PVL-positive MSSA isolates entails the risk of emergence of a multidrug-resistant PVL-positive MRSA clone.
PMCID: PMC2738054  PMID: 19605575
18.  Development and validation of a bedside risk score for MRSA among patients hospitalized with complicated skin and skin structure infections 
BMC Infectious Diseases  2012;12:154.
Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is a frequent cause of complicated skin and skin structure infections (cSSSI). Patients with MRSA require different empiric treatment than those with non-MRSA infections, yet no accurate tools exist to aid in stratifying the risk for a MRSA cSSSI. We sought to develop a simple bedside decision rule to tailor empiric coverage more accurately.
We conducted a large multicenter (N=62 hospitals) retrospective cohort study in a US-based database between April 2005 and March 2009. All adult initial admissions with ICD-9-CM codes specific to cSSSI were included. Patients admitted with MRSA vs. non-MRSA were compared with regard to baseline demographic, clinical and hospital characteristics. We developed and validated a model to predict the risk of MRSA, and compared its performance via sensitivity, specificity and other classification statistics to the healthcare-associated (HCA) infection risk factors.
Of the 7,183 patients with cSSSI, 2,387 (33.2%) had MRSA. Factors discriminating MRSA from non-MRSA were age, African-American race, no evidence of diabetes mellitus, cancer or renal dysfunction, and prior history of cardiac dysrhythmia. The score ranging from 0 to 8 points exhibited a consistent dose–response relationship. A MRSA score of 5 or higher was superior to the HCA classification in all characteristics, while that of 4 or higher was superior on all metrics except specificity.
MRSA is present in 1/3 of all hospitalized cSSSI. A simple bedside risk score can help discriminate the risk for MRSA vs. other pathogens with improved accuracy compared to the HCA definition.
PMCID: PMC3518172  PMID: 22784260
Skin infection; Prediction rule; Clinical decision; MRSA; Hospitalization
19.  Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus Carriage and Risk Factors for Skin Infections, Southwestern Alaska, USA 
Emerging Infectious Diseases  2010;16(5):797-803.
Skin infection risk was increased among MRSA nasal carriers.
Community-acquired methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (CA-MRSA) infections are common in southwestern Alaska. Outbreak strains have been shown to carry the genes for Panton-Valentine leukocidin (PVL). To determine if carriage of PVL-positive CA-MRSA increased the risk for subsequent soft tissue infection, we conducted a retrospective cohort study by reviewing the medical records of 316 persons for 3.6 years after their participation in a MRSA nasal colonization survey. Demographic, nasal carriage, and antimicrobial drug use data were analyzed for association with skin infection risk. Skin infections were more likely to develop in MRSA carriers than in methicillin-susceptible S. aureus carriers or noncarriers of S. aureus during the first follow-up year, but not in subsequent years. Repeated skin infections were more common among MRSA carriers. In an area where PVL-containing MRSA is prevalent, skin infection risk was increased among MRSA nasal carriers compared with methicillin-susceptible S. aureus carriers and noncarriers, but risk differential diminished over time.
PMCID: PMC2953982  PMID: 20409369
Carrier state; skin infections; antimicrobial resistance; bacteria; Staphylococcus aureus; community-acquired infections; MRSA; Alaska; research
20.  Emergence of Virulent Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus Strains Carrying Panton-Valentine Leucocidin Genes in The Netherlands 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2005;43(7):3341-3345.
Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) strains carrying the Panton-Valentine leucocidin (PVL) genes have been reported worldwide and are a serious threat to public health. The PVL genes encode a highly potent toxin which is involved in severe skin infections and necrotizing pneumonia, even in previously healthy individuals. We assessed the prevalence of PVL-positive MRSA in The Netherlands for two periods of time: (i) 1987 through 1995 and (ii) 2000 and 2002, and determined their characteristics by using multilocus sequence typing and staphylococcal chromosome cassette (SCCmec) typing. It was found that up to 15% of all MRSA isolates detected in The Netherlands harbored the PVL genes. Most PVL-positive MRSA isolates were obtained from severe soft tissue infections in relatively young individuals. The first PVL-positive MRSA described in The Netherlands, isolated in 1988, was a single-locus variant of the “Berlin” epidemic MRSA clone. The 20 PVL-positive MRSA isolates studied in 2000 and 2002 consisted of five different sequence types (STs) that belonged to four clonal complexes. One of the STs, ST80, is considered to be a widespread European clone and was the most predominant ST (60%) in this study, while ST37 had never been found to be associated with PVL-positive MRSA. Most isolates harbored SCCmec type IV, a supposed marker for community-acquired MRSA. The number and type of virulence-associated genes varied among the different STs.
PMCID: PMC1169179  PMID: 16000458
21.  Preadmission Screening of Adults Highlights Previously Unrecognized Carriage of Panton-Valentine Leukocidin-Positive Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus in London: a Cause for Concern? 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2012;50(10):3168-3171.
In the first study of its kind in the United Kingdom, we describe the colonization rate of ciprofloxacin-sensitive Panton-Valentine leukocidin-positive methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (PVL-MRSA) in adult patients who were screened systematically at the time of hospital admission. We also describe the molecular characteristics of PVL-MRSA and antibiotic resistance phenotypes. A total of 55,760 specimens were screened for MRSA between April 2008 and December 2010. MRSA was identified in 1,998 specimens, and ciprofloxacin-susceptible (CSMRSA) isolates (385/1,998, or 19.3%) were subjected to PVL testing. Of these, 70 (18.1%) were identified as PVL-CSMRSA. During the study period, the MRSA colonization rate decreased from 4.6% to 2.8%. In contrast, the colonization rate of PVL-CSMRSA increased over time, rising from 0.075% in 2008 and 0.07% in 2009 to 0.22% in 2010. The mean patient age was 52 years (range, 18 to 90 years); over two-thirds were male. Seven different lineages of PVL-CSMRSA were identified. Over the 3 years, the Southwest Pacific clone (CC30) was dominant in our population. The CC5 clone was detected once in 2008 and not at all in 2009 but accounted for a third of all PVL-CSMRSA strains in 2010. This lineage was commonly associated with clindamycin resistance and, less frequently, tetracycline resistance. We conclude that there is hitherto unrecognized low-level carriage of PVL-CSMRSA among patients being admitted to hospitals in northwest London. We observed the emergence of the CC5 clone in 2010 with associated clindamycin and tetracycline resistance.
PMCID: PMC3457423  PMID: 22814463
22.  Community-Associated Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus Lacking PVL, as a Cause of Severe Invasive Infection Treated with Linezolid 
Case Reports in Pediatrics  2013;2013:727824.
Community-associated methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (CA-MRSA) is an emerging public health problem worldwide. Severe invasive infections have been described, mostly associated with the presence of Panton-Valentine leukocidin (PVL). In Portugal limited information exists regarding CA-MRSA infections. In this study we describe the case of a previously healthy 12-year-old female, sport athlete, who presented to the hospital with acetabulofemoral septic arthritis, myositis, fasciitis, acetabulum osteomyelitis, and pneumonia. The MRSA isolated from blood and synovial fluid was PVL negative and staphylococcal enterotoxin type P (SEP) and type L (SEL) positive, with a vancomycin MIC of 1.0 mg/L and resistant to clindamycin and ciprofloxacin. The patient was submitted to multiple surgical drainages and started on vancomycin, rifampicin, and gentamycin. Due to persistence of fever and no microbiological clearance, linezolid was started with improvement. This is one of the few reported cases of severe invasive infection caused by CA-MRSA in Portugal, which was successfully treated with linezolid. In spite of the severity of infection, the MRSA isolate did not produce PVL.
PMCID: PMC3590555  PMID: 23509655
23.  Increasing Prevalence of Nasal and Rectal Colonization with Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus in Children with Cancer 
Pediatric blood & cancer  2010;55(7):1317-1322.
Infections with methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), in community-settings, especially with strains carrying the Panton-Valentine Leukocidin (PVL) genes, have increased markedly in recent years. Colonization with S.aureus is a risk factor for infection. However, there are few studies that examine colonization and infection with PVL-positive strains of MRSA in cancer patients.
The epidemiology of colonization and infection with MRSA was studied in children with cancer during two time periods: 2000/2001 and 2006/2007. PVL genes were screened and spa typing performed on the isolates.
The prevalence of colonization with MRSA increased from 0.6% in 2000/2001 to 2.9% in 2006/2007(p=0.0003). MRSA colonization at admission was associated with infection (p<0.0001; RR 38.32; 95% CI: 23.36 - 62.84). The prevalence of infection increased from 0.99% in 2000/2001 to 3.78% in 2006-2007 (p=0.0002). Of the 32 colonized patients, 18 (56%) had infection. None of the 14 colonized but non-infected patients had dual colonization of nares and rectum, while 8 of the 18 infected patients had colonization of both of these sites (p=0.004). Ten patients (31%) were colonized with PVL-positive strains. Patients colonized with PVL-positive strains were more likely to be colonized both in the nares and rectum (p=0.005), and more likely to have infection (p=0.001). Recurrent MRSA infections were seen in 22% of patients.
An increasing prevalence of colonization with MRSA was observed in children with cancer at our institution. Colonization with MRSA especially with PVL-positive strains was associated with infection.
PMCID: PMC2965815  PMID: 20830777
Colonization; Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus; Children; Cancer; Panton-Valentine Leukocidin
24.  Molecular Epidemiology of Methicillin-Resistant and Methicillin-Susceptible Staphylococcus aureus Isolated from the Eye 
Current Eye Research  2010;36(2):94-102.
Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) strains are commonly classified as hospital-acquired (HA) or community-acquired (CA). Typical HA-MRSA isolates are characterized by multidrug resistance and the SCCmec type II cassette, while CA-MRSA isolates are generally susceptible to more drug classes, are often of SCCmec type IV, and frequently carry the Panton-Valentine leukocidin (PVL) genes. This study determined the presence of traits characteristic for CA and HA strains in ocular MRSA isolates.
Materials and Methods:
Fifty-six recent ocular isolates, consisting of 40 MRSA and 16 methicillin-susceptible Staphylococcus aureus (MSSA) comparator strains, were characterized. Minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC) testing was done according to current Clinical and Laboratory Standards Institute guidelines. Detection of the PVL encoding genes and determination of the SCCmec type was done by polymerase chain reaction (PCR), while spa typing and cluster analysis was performed following DNA sequencing.
Of the 38 typeable MRSA isolates, 22 were of SCCmec type II and 16 were of SCCmec type IV. All SCCmec type II isolates were multidrug-resistant, lacked the PVL genes, and were of spa type t002 or closely related spa types. In contrast, the SCCmec type IV isolates were resistant to fewer classes of antimicrobial agents, often possessed the PVL genes (75.0%), and were of spa type t008 or closely related spa types.
While the majority of ocular MRSA strains in this study fit the classical profile of HA-and CA-MRSA, some CA-MRSA isolates exhibited higher levels of antimicrobial resistance, which should be of particular concern to eye-care professionals. Furthermore, the apparent association of spa types and SCCmec types observed here warrants further investigation and suggests that spa typing may be useful in future HA- and CA-MRSA characterization studies.
PMCID: PMC3021952  PMID: 21158584
Bacterial infection; Community-acquired MRSA; Multi-drug resistance; spa typing; Staphylococcal virulence factors
25.  Staphylococcus aureus Panton-Valentine Leukocidin Is a Very Potent Cytotoxic Factor for Human Neutrophils 
PLoS Pathogens  2010;6(1):e1000715.
The role of the pore-forming Staphylococcus aureus toxin Panton-Valentine leukocidin (PVL) in severe necrotizing diseases is debated due to conflicting data from epidemiological studies of community-associated methicillin-resistant S. aureus (CA-MRSA) infections and various murine disease-models. In this study, we used neutrophils isolated from different species to evaluate the cytotoxic effect of PVL in comparison to other staphylococcal cytolytic components. Furthermore, to study the impact of PVL we expressed it heterologously in a non-virulent staphylococcal species and examined pvl-positive and pvl-negative clinical isolates as well as the strain USA300 and its pvl-negative mutant. We demonstrate that PVL induces rapid activation and cell death in human and rabbit neutrophils, but not in murine or simian cells. By contrast, the phenol-soluble modulins (PSMs), a newly identified group of cytolytic staphylococcal components, lack species-specificity. In general, after phagocytosis of bacteria different pvl-positive and pvl-negative staphylococcal strains, expressing a variety of other virulence factors (such as surface proteins), induced cell death in neutrophils, which is most likely associated with the physiological clearing function of these cells. However, the release of PVL by staphylococcal strains caused rapid and premature cell death, which is different from the physiological (and programmed) cell death of neutrophils following phagocytosis and degradation of virulent bacteria. Taken together, our results question the value of infection-models in mice and non-human primates to elucidate the impact of PVL. Our data clearly demonstrate that PVL acts differentially on neutrophils of various species and suggests that PVL has an important cytotoxic role in human neutrophils, which has major implications for the pathogenesis of CA-MRSA infections.
Author Summary
Staphylococcus aureus can cause serious diseases, including necrotizing pneumonia, which often affects young immunocompetent patients and has a high lethality rate. Several clinical studies demonstrated a clear association between this form of pneumonia and S. aureus strains carrying the gene for the pore-forming toxin Panton-Valentine leukocidin (PVL). However, laboratory work, which mainly used murine disease models, has created very contrasting results and often fails to show a pathogenic role for PVL. In this study, we demonstrate that the expression of PVL by staphylococcal strains confers strong and rapid cytotoxic activity against neutrophils. However, this action was basically restricted to human cells and could not be reproduced in murine or Java monkeys’ cells. These results indicate that infection-models in mice and in non-human primates fail to replicate the pathogenic activity of PVL seen in human cells. Our data with human neutrophils clearly show that PVL has a major cytotoxic effect, as the release of PVL by staphylococcal strains caused rapid and premature cell death, which is different from the physiological (and programmed) cell death of neutrophils following phagocytosis and degradation of virulent bacteria. These results have important implications especially for infections with CA-MRSA strains, which often carry the gene for PVL and have spread widely in the community.
PMCID: PMC2798753  PMID: 20072612

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