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1.  Reduced Susceptibility to Host-Defense Cationic Peptides and Daptomycin Coemerge in Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus From Daptomycin-Naive Bacteremic Patients 
The Journal of Infectious Diseases  2012;206(8):1160-1167.
Background. We hypothesized that, for methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), in vitro daptomycin susceptibility could be influenced by exposures to endogenous host defense peptides (HDPs) prior to clinical exposure to daptomycin.
Methods. Two endovascular HDPs were used: thrombin-induced platelet microbicidal protein (tPMP) and human neutrophil defensin-1 (hNP-1) from neutrophils. Forty-seven unique MRSA isolates obtained from bacteremic patients in multicenter prospective clinical trials were studied. Clinical characteristics, microbiologic parameters, prior vancomycin therapy, and susceptibilities to tPMP, hNP-1, and daptomycin were compared using univariate and multivariate analyses.
Results. All strains were daptomycin susceptible. Daptomycin minimum inhibitory concentrations (MICs) were inversely related to in vitro tPMP (but not hNP-1) killing. Strains with a daptomycin MIC of 1 mg/L exhibited significantly less killing by tPMP, compared with strains with an MIC of ≤ 0.5 mg/L. Prior vancomycin therapy did not influence this relationship. Regression tree modeling confirmed that reduced tPMP-induced killing in vitro was the strongest predictor of higher daptomycin MICs within the daptomycin-susceptible range.
Conclusions. Among daptomycin-susceptible MRSA isolates from patients who had never received daptomycin, higher daptomycin MICs tracked with increased resistance to killing by platelet-derived but not neutrophil-derived HDPs. These findings support the notion that endogenous exposure of MRSA to specific HDPs may play a role in selecting strains with an intrinsically higher daptomycin MIC phenotype.
PMCID: PMC3448966  PMID: 22904338
2.  Factors Influencing Time to Vancomycin-Induced Clearance of Nonendocarditis Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus Bacteremia: Role of Platelet Microbicidal Protein Killing and agr Genotypes 
Vancomycin susceptibility, the accessory gene global regulator (agr) genotype and function, staphylococcal cassette chromosome (SCC) mec type, and susceptibility to cationic thrombin-induced platelet microbicidal protein 1 (tPMP-1) have been individually predictive of duration of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) bacteremia. This investigation evaluated the interrelationship of these factors with time to clearance of MRSA bacteremia during vancomycin therapy in patients without endocarditis.
Vancomycin minimum inhibitory concentration and in vitro killing, agr function (δ-hemolysin activity), agr group, SCCmec type, and survival in tPMP-1 killing assays were determined for 29 MRSA bacteremia isolates.
Increased resistance to tPMP-1 killing was observed with agr group III MRSA (P =.025) and MRSA with reduced or absent agr function (P =.023). The median time to clearance of MRSA bacteremia was earlier for agr group III (3 days) versus group I (10.5 days) or II (15 days) (P =.001). In multivariate analysis, agr group II, reduced tPMP-1 killing in vitro, and prior vancomycin exposure were significant independent predictors of longer MRSA bacteremia duration.
Specific genotypic, phenotypic, and clinical parameters appear to correlate with persistent MRSA bacteremia. The interrelationship of these and other factors probably contributes to vancomycin-mediated clearance of MRSA bacteremia.
PMCID: PMC2819315  PMID: 20001853
3.  In Vitro Cross-Resistance to Daptomycin and Host Defense Cationic Antimicrobial Peptides in Clinical Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus Isolates▿ 
We investigated the hypothesis that methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) isolates developing reduced susceptibilities to daptomycin (DAP; a calcium-dependent molecule acting as a cationic antimicrobial peptide [CAP]) may also coevolve reduced in vitro susceptibilities to host defense cationic antimicrobial peptides (HDPs). Ten isogenic pairs of clinical MRSA DAP-susceptible/DAP-resistant (DAPs/DAPr) strains were tested against two distinct HDPs differing in structure, mechanism of action, and origin (thrombin-induced platelet microbicidal proteins [tPMPs] and human neutrophil peptide-1 [hNP-1]) and one bacterium-derived CAP, polymyxin B (PMB). Seven of 10 DAPr strains had point mutations in the mprF locus (with or without yyc operon mutations), while three DAPr strains had neither mutation. Several phenotypic parameters previously associated with DAPr were also examined: cell membrane order (fluidity), surface charge, and cell wall thickness profiles. Compared to the 10 DAPs parental strains, their respective DAPr strains exhibited (i) significantly reduced susceptibility to killing by all three peptides (P < 0.05), (ii) increased cell membrane fluidity, and (iii) significantly thicker cell walls (P < 0.0001). There was no consistent pattern of surface charge profiles distinguishing DAPs and DAPr strain pairs. Reduced in vitro susceptibility to two HDPs and one bacterium-derived CAP tracked closely with DAPr in these 10 recent MRSA clinical isolates. These results suggest that adaptive mechanisms involved in the evolution of DAPr also provide MRSA with enhanced survivability against HDPs. Such adaptations appear to correlate with MRSA variations in cell membrane order and cell wall structure. DAPr strains with or without mutations in the mprF locus demonstrated significant cross-resistance profiles to these unrelated CAPs.
PMCID: PMC3165344  PMID: 21709105
4.  Emergence of Daptomycin Resistance in Daptomycin-Naïve Rabbits with Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus Prosthetic Joint Infection Is Associated with Resistance to Host Defense Cationic Peptides and mprF Polymorphisms 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(8):e71151.
Previous studies of both clinically-derived and in vitro passage-derived daptomycin–resistant (DAP-R) Staphylococcus aureus strains demonstrated the coincident emergence of increased DAP MICs and resistance to host defense cationic peptides (HDP-R).
In the present investigation, we studied a parental DAP-susceptible (DAP-S) methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) strain and three isogenic variants with increased DAP MICs which were isolated from both DAP-treated and DAP-untreated rabbits with prosthetic joint infections. These strains were compared for: in vitro susceptibility to distinct HDPs differing in size, structure, and origin; i.e.; thrombin-induced platelet microbicidal proteins [tPMPs] and human neutrophil peptide-1 [hNP-1]; cell membrane (CM) phospholipid and fatty acid content; CM order; envelope surface charge; cell wall thickness; and mprF single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and expression profiles.
In comparison with the parental strain, both DAP-exposed and DAP-naive strains exhibited: (i) significantly reduced susceptibility to each HDP (P<0.05); (ii) thicker cell walls (P<0.05); (iii) increased synthesis of CM lysyl-phosphatidylglycerol (L-PG); (iv) reduced content of CM phosphatidylglycerol (PG); and (v) SNPs within the mprF locus No significant differences were observed between parental or variant strains in outer CM content of L-PG, CM fluidity, CM fatty acid contents, surface charge, mprF expression profiles or MprF protein content. An isolate which underwent identical in vivo passage, but without evolving increased DAP MICs, retained parental phenotypes and genotype.
These results suggest: i) DAP MIC increases may occur in the absence of DAP exposures in vivo and may be triggered by organism exposure to endogenous HDPs: and ii) gain-in-function SNPs in mprF may contribute to such HDP-DAP cross-resistance phenotypes, although the mechanism of this relationship remains to be defined.
PMCID: PMC3747195  PMID: 23990934
5.  Phenotypic and Genotypic Characteristics of Persistent Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus Bacteremia In Vitro and in an Experimental Endocarditis Model 
The Journal of infectious diseases  2009;199(2):201-208.
Persistent MRSA bacteremia (PB) represents an important subset of Staphylococcus aureus infections and correlates with poor clinical outcomes.
We profiled relevant in vitro phenotypic and genotypic characteristics of MRSA isolates from 39 persons with bacteremia (21 had PB and 18 had resolving bacteremia [RB]). We also compared the intrinsic virulence and responsiveness to vancomycin of selected PB and RB strains in an experimental endocarditis model (IE).
PB and RB isolates differed significantly with regard to several in vitro characteristics that are believed to impact endovascular infections. PB isolates exhibited significantly more resistance to the cationic defensin hNP-1, enhanced membrane fluidity, and substantially greater adhesion to fibronectin, fibrinogen, and endothelial cells. Genotypically, PB isolates had higher frequency of SCCmec II, CC30, and spa 16; and higher rates of agr type III, cap8, tst-1, and cna carriage. Finally, a prototypic PB strain was more resistant to vancomycin treatment in the infective endocarditis model than a RB comparator strain, despite equivalent virulence profiles.
Our findings indicate that PB isolates may have specific virulence signatures that distinguish them from RB isolates. These data suggest that methods might be developed to identify patients at higher risk for PB in real-time, thereby optimizing the effectiveness of anti-MRSA therapeutic strategies.
PMCID: PMC2827482  PMID: 19086913
6.  Reduced Susceptibility of Staphylococcus aureus to Vancomycin and Platelet Microbicidal Protein Correlates with Defective Autolysis and Loss of Accessory Gene Regulator (agr) Function 
Loss of agr function, vancomycin exposure, and abnormal autolysis have been linked with both development of the GISA phenotype and low-level resistance in vitro to thrombin-induced platelet microbicidal proteins (tPMPs). We examined the potential in vitro interrelationships among these parameters in well-characterized, isogenic laboratory-derived and clinical Staphylococcus aureus isolates. The laboratory-derived S. aureus strains included RN6607 (agrII-positive parent) and RN6607V (vancomycin-passaged variant; hetero-GISA), RN9120 (RN6607 agr::tetM; agr II knockout parent), RN9120V (vancomycin-passaged variant), and RN9120-GISA (vancomycin passaged, GISA). Two serial isolates from a vancomycin-treated patient with recalcitrant, methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA) endocarditis were also studied: A5937 (agrII-positive initial isolate) and A5940 (agrII-defective/hetero-GISA isolate obtained after prolonged vancomycin administration). In vitro tPMP susceptibility phenotypes were assessed after exposure of strains to either 1 or 2 μg/ml. Triton X-100- and vancomycin-induced lysis profiles were determined spectrophotometrically. For agrII-intact strain RN6607, vancomycin exposure in vitro was associated with modest increases in vancomycin MICs and reduced killing by tPMP, but no change in lysis profiles. In contrast, vancomycin exposure of agrII-negative RN9120 yielded a hetero-GISA phenotype and was associated with defects in lysis and reduced in vitro killing by tPMP. In the clinical isolates, loss of agrII function during prolonged vancomycin therapy was accompanied by emergence of the hetero-GISA phenotype and reduced tPMP killing, with no significant change in lysis profiles. An association was identified between loss of agrII function and the emergence of hetero-GISA phenotype during either in vitro or in vivo vancomycin exposure. In vitro, these events were associated with defective lysis and reduced susceptibility to tPMP. The precise mechanism(s) underlying these findings is the subject of current investigations.
PMCID: PMC1168700  PMID: 15980337
7.  In Vitro Antibacterial Activities of Platelet Microbicidal Protein and Neutrophil Defensin against Staphylococcus aureus Are Influenced by Antibiotics Differing in Mechanism of Action 
Thrombin-induced platelet microbicidal protein-1 (tPMP-1) and human neutrophil defensin-1 (HNP-1) are small, cationic antimicrobial peptides. These peptides exert potent in vitro microbicidal activity against a broad spectrum of human pathogens, including Staphylococcus aureus. Evidence suggests that tPMP-1 and HNP-1 target and disrupt the bacterial membrane. However, it is not yet clear whether membrane disruption itself is sufficient to kill the bacterium or whether subsequent, presumably intracellular, events are also involved in killing. We investigated the staphylocidal activities of tPMP-1 and HNP-1 in the presence or absence of pretreatment with antibiotics that differ in their mechanisms of action. The staphylocidal effects of tPMP-1 and HNP-1 on control cells (no antibiotic pretreatment) were rapid and concentration dependent. Pretreatment of S. aureus with either penicillin or vancomycin (bacterial cell wall synthesis inhibitors) significantly enhanced the anti-S. aureus effects of tPMP-1 compared with the effects against the respective control cells over the entire tPMP-1 concentration range tested (P < 0.05). Similarly, S. aureus cells pretreated with these antibiotics were more susceptible to HNP-1 than control cells, although the difference in the effects against cells that received penicillin pretreatment did not reach statistical significance (P < 0.05 for cells that received vancomycin pretreatment versus effects against control cells). Studies with isogenic pairs of strains with normal or deficient autolytic enzyme activities demonstrated that enhancement of S. aureus killing by cationic peptides and cell wall-active agents could not be ascribed to a predominant role of autolytic enzyme activation. Pretreatment of S. aureus cells with tetracycline, a 30S ribosomal subunit inhibitor, significantly decreased the staphylocidal effect of tPMP-1 over a wide peptide concentration range (0.16 to 1.25 μg/ml) (P < 0.05). Furthermore, pretreatment with novobiocin (an inhibitor of bacterial DNA gyrase subunit B) and with azithromycin, quinupristin, or dalfopristin (50S ribosomal subunit protein synthesis inhibitors) essentially blocked the S. aureus killing resulting from exposure to tPMP-1 or HNP-1 at most concentrations compared with the effects against the respective control cells (P < 0.05 for a tPMP-1 concentration range of 0.31 to 1.25 μg/ml and for an HNP-1 concentration range of 6.25 to 50 μg/ml). These findings suggest that tPMP-1 and HNP-1 exert anti-S. aureus activities through mechanisms involving both the cell membrane and intracellular targets.
PMCID: PMC89119  PMID: 10223922
8.  Role of the LytSR Two-Component Regulatory System in Adaptation to Cationic Antimicrobial Peptides in Staphylococcus aureus 
Many host defense cationic antimicrobial peptides (HDPs) perturb the staphylococcal cell membrane (CM) and alter transmembrane potential (ΔΨ) as key parts of their lethal mechanism. Thus, a sense-response system for detecting and mediating adaptive responses to such stresses could impact organism survival; the Staphylococcus aureus LytSR two-component regulatory system (TCRS) may serve as such a ΔΨ sensor. One well-known target of this system is the lrgAB operon, which, along with the related cidABC operon, has been shown to be a regulator in the control of programmed cell death and lysis. We used an isogenic set of S. aureus strains: (i) UAMS-1, (ii) its isogenic ΔlytS and ΔlrgAB mutants, and (iii) plasmid-complemented ΔlytSR and ΔlrgAB mutants. The ΔlytS strain displayed significantly increased in vitro susceptibilities to all HDPs tested (neutrophil-derived human neutrophil peptide 1 [hNP-1], platelet-derived thrombin-induced platelet microbicidal proteins [tPMPs], and the tPMP-mimetic peptide RP-1), as well as to calcium-daptomycin (DAP), a cationic antimicrobial peptide (CAP). In contrast, the ΔlrgAB strain exhibited no significant changes in susceptibilities to these cationic peptides, indicating that although lytSR positively regulates transcription of lrgAB, increased HDP/CAP susceptibilities in the ΔlytS mutant were lrgAB independent. Further, parental UAMS-1 (but not the ΔlytS mutant) became more resistant to hNP-1 and DAP following pretreatment with carbonyl cyanide m-chlorophenylhydrazone (CCCP) (a CM-depolarizing agent). Of note, lytSR-dependent survival against CAP/HDP killing was not associated with changes in either surface positive charge, expression of mprF and dlt, or CM fluidity. The ΔlytS strain (but not the ΔlrgAB mutant) displayed a significant reduction in target tissue survival in an endocarditis model during DAP treatment. Collectively, these results suggest that the lytSR TCRS plays an important role in adaptive responses of S. aureus to CM-perturbing HDPs/CAPs, likely by functioning as a sense-response system for detecting subtle changes in ΔΨ.
PMCID: PMC3719743  PMID: 23733465
9.  Resistance to platelet microbicidal protein results in increased severity of experimental Candida albicans endocarditis. 
Infection and Immunity  1996;64(4):1379-1384.
Thrombin-induced platelet microbicidal protein (tPMP) exerts potent in vitro microbicidal activity against pathogens commonly found in the bloodstream, including Staphylococcus aureus, Staphylococcus epidermidis, and Candida albicans. Localized platelet release of tPMP may be important in defense against infections involving the vascular endothelium caused by tPMP-susceptible organisms. In contrast, pathogens capable of surviving in the presence of tPMP could then exploit the platelet as an adhesive surface for attachment to damaged endothelium. To examine these hypotheses, we derived a tPMP-resistant (tPMP(r)) C. albicans strain from its tPMP-sensitive (tPMP(s)) parental strains were equivalent in vitro as assessed by genotyping (electrophoretic karyotype and restriction endonuclease analysis of genomic DNA), biotyping, germination, platelet aggregation, adherence to vascular endothelial cells, and growth characteristics. In addition, the tPMP(r) phenotype was stable following multiple in vitro and in vivo passages. We then investigated the in vivo relevance of tPMP susceptibility on endovascular infection using a rabbit model of endocarditis and hematogenous dissemination. Rabbits with transaortic catheters (n = 15 in each group) were challenged with either the tPMP(s) or tPMP(r) C. albicans strain. All rabbits developed C. albicans-induced endocarditis, as determined by the presence of infected vegetations. In rabbits challenged with tPMP(s) strain (P < 0.001). These results were seen in the absence of differences in either initial adherence of strains to cardiac valves or vegetation weights. Furthermore, although these C. albicans strains induced equivalent rates and extent of hematogenous renal infection, only the tPMP(r) strain disseminated hematogenously to the spleen (15 of 15 rabbits) versus 0 of 15 [tpmp(s) strain]; P < 0.0001). Thus, tPMP(r) C. albicans caused more-severe endocarditis and produced greater metastatic sequelae than the tPMP(s) counterpart.
PMCID: PMC173929  PMID: 8606104
10.  Predictors and clinical outcomes of persistent methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus bacteremia: a prospective observational study 
The high mortality attributable to persistent methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) bacteremia in spite of glycopeptide treatment has heightened the need for early detection and intervention with alternative agents. The purpose of this study was to determine the clinical characteristics of and risk factors for persistent MRSA bacteremia.
All first episodes of significant MRSA bacteremia at a 710-bed academic medical center from November 2009 through August 2010 were recorded. Blood cultures were conducted at 3 days and every 2 to 3 days thereafter until clearance. Clinical characteristics and outcomes were compared between persistent MRSA bacteremia (≥ 7 days) and nonpersistent MRSA bacteremia (≤ 3 days).
Of 79 patients with MRSA bacteremia during the study period, 31 (39.2%) had persistent MRSA bacteremia. The persistent MRSA bacteremia group had significantly higher 30-day mortality than the nonpersistent MRSA bacteremia group (58.1% vs. 16.7%, p < 0.001). Multivariate analysis indicated that metastatic infection at presentation (odds ratio [OR], 14.57; 95% confidence interval [CI], 3.52 to 60.34; p < 0.001) and delayed catheter removal in catheter-related infection (OR, 3.80; 95% CI, 1.04 to 13.88; p = 0.004) were independent predictors of persistent MRSA bacteremia. Patients with a time to blood culture positivity (TTP) of < 11.8 hours were at increased risk of persistent MRSA bacteremia (29.0% vs. 8.3%, p = 0.029).
High mortality in patients with persistent MRSA bacteremia was noted. Early detection of metastatic infection and early removal of infected intravascular catheters should be considered to reduce the risk of persistent MRSA bacteremia. Further studies are needed to evaluate the role of TTP for predicting persistent MRSA bacteremia.
PMCID: PMC3846993  PMID: 24307843
Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus; Mortality; Persistent
11.  Reduced Vancomycin Susceptibility in an In Vitro Catheter-Related Biofilm Model Correlates with Poor Therapeutic Outcomes in Experimental Endocarditis Due to Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus 
Staphylococcus aureus is the most common cause of endovascular infections, including catheter sepsis and infective endocarditis (IE). Vancomycin (VAN) is the primary choice for treatment of methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA) infections. However, high rates of VAN treatment failure in MRSA infections caused by VAN-susceptible strains have been increasingly reported. Biofilm-associated MRSA infections are especially prone to clinical antibiotic failure. The present studies examined potential relationships between MRSA susceptibility to VAN in biofilms in vitro and nonsusceptibility to VAN in endovascular infection in vivo. Using 10 “VAN-susceptible” MRSA bloodstream isolates previously investigated for VAN responsiveness in experimental IE, we studied the mechanism(s) of such in vivo VAN resistance, including: (i) VAN binding to MRSA organisms; (ii) the impact of VAN on biofilm formation and biofilm composition; (iii) VAN efficacy in an in vitro catheter-related biofilm model; (iv) effects on cell wall thickness. As a group, the five strains previously categorized as VAN nonresponders (non-Rsp) in the experimental IE model differed from the five responders (Rsp) in terms of lower VAN binding, increased biofilm formation, higher survival in the presence of VAN within biofilms in the presence or absence of catheters, and greater biofilm reduction upon proteinase K treatment. Interestingly, sub-MICs of VAN significantly promoted biofilm formation only in the non-Rsp isolates. Cell wall thickness was similar among all MRSA strains. These results suggest that sublethal VAN levels that induce biofilm formation and reduce efficacy of VAN in the in vitro catheter-associated biofilms may contribute to suboptimal treatment outcomes for endovascular infections caused by “VAN-susceptible” MRSA strains.
PMCID: PMC3591927  PMID: 23295925
12.  Community-Acquired Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus: Prevalence and Risk Factors  
Journal of Athletic Training  2006;41(3):337-340.
Reference/Citation: Salgado CD, Farr BM, Calfee DP. Community-acquired methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus: a meta-analysis of prevalence and risk factors. Clin Infect Dis.20033613113912522744.
Clinical Question: What are the prevalence rates and risk factors associated with community-acquired methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA)?
Data Sources: Studies were identified by searching MEDLINE (January 1966–February 2002) and abstracts from scientific meetings (1996–2001). Reviews of citations and reference lists were performed to identify additional eligible studies. The search terms included Staphylococcus aureus , infection, colonization, methicillin resistance, community-acquired, community-onset, prevalence, frequency, and risk factors.
Study Selection: The search was limited to English-language investigations identified from the electronic and manual searches. Studies were divided into 2 groups, as follows: group 1, retrospective or prospective studies that reported the prevalence of community-acquired MRSA (CA-MRSA) among hospital patients who were colonized (presence of bacteria without infection) or infected with MRSA; and group 2, studies that reported the prevalence of MRSA colonization in the community. The studies were evaluated independently by 2 authors, and case reports were excluded.
Data Extraction: Data extraction and study quality assessment procedures were not fully explained. The outcome measures for hospital patients were definitions of CA-MRSA used in the study, prevalence of CA-MRSA, sample size, number and type of risk factors assessed, and number of patients with ≥1 health care–associated risk factor. The studies were grouped based on type, retrospective or prospective. The pooled prevalence of CA-MRSA was calculated for each group (retrospective or prospective) and was limited to the prevalence among patients with MRSA. The proportion of patients who reported ≥1 health care–associated risk factor was also calculated. The outcome measures among community members were prevalence of MRSA, sample size, number and type of risk factors assessed, number of members with ≥1 risk factor, and MRSA strain type, when available. The studies were grouped based on the population surveyed (surveillance cultures, contacts with MRSA-colonized individuals, or sport team members or day care contacts). The pooled prevalence of MRSA colonization and the proportion of members with ≥1 reported risk factor were calculated for each of the study populations listed above. The proportion of CA-MRSA strains that represented typical nosocomial (infection that develops in the hospital) strains was also determined. Chi-square analysis was performed to compare proportions and to determine heterogeneity among the studies.
Main Results: Specific search criteria identified 104 studies for review, of which 57 met inclusion and exclusion criteria. Thirty-nine studies focused on CA-MRSA among hospital patients who were colonized or infected with MRSA. Of these, 32 groups (27 retrospective, 5 prospective) reported the prevalence of CA-MRSA using clinical specimens. Seven groups identified risk factors of CA-MRSA among patients previously diagnosed with MRSA. Thirteen different definitions of CA-MRSA were used in 31 of these studies, and 8 groups did not report the definitions used. The isolation of MRSA within 48 hours of hospital admission, with or without recent admission to a hospital or long-term care facility, or previous history of MRSA colonization were the most common definitions in the studies.
The risk factors included recent hospitalization (range, 1–24 months before identification of MRSA infection or colonization), recent outpatient visit (usually within 12 months), recent nursing home admission (usually within 12 months), recent antibiotic exposure (range, 1–12 months), chronic illness (eg, end-stage renal disease, diabetes, or malignancy), injection drug use, and close contact with a person who had risk factor(s) for MRSA acquisition. The presence of health care–associated risk factors was examined in 17 of the retrospective studies, and the median number of factors studied was 2 (range, 1–6). Among 4121 patients in these studies, 86.1% were found to have ≥1 health care–associated risk factor. All authors of prospective studies (5) examined health care–associated risk factors, and the median number of factors studied was 4 (range, 2–4). Among the 636 patients, 86.9% had ≥1 health care–associated risk factor. In the 7 studies with 515 patients previously diagnosed with MRSA, 84.7% had ≥1 health care–associated risk factor. The most common risk factors assessed in the 17 retrospective studies were recent hospitalization and chronic illness requiring health care visits.
The pooled CA-MRSA prevalence was 30.2% (range, 1.9%– 96%) among 5932 patients from the 27 retrospective studies and 37.3% (range, 18.2%–51.2%) among 636 patients from the 5 prospective studies. Eighteen groups reported the prevalence of MRSA colonization in the community. Ten of these reported MRSA prevalence using surveillance cultures, 4 examined colonization status of household contacts with discharged hospital patients with nosocomial MRSA colonization, and 4 reported colonization status of sports team members or day care contacts of persons colonized with MRSA. In the 10 surveillance studies, the pooled MRSA colonization prevalence was 1.3% (95% confidence interval [CI], 1.04%–1.53%; range, 0.2%– 7.4%) among 8350 community members. Nine of these studies were stratified based on culture samples taken before the assessment of risk factors, and among 4825 people, the pooled MRSA colonization prevalence was 2.1%. When examining health care–associated risk factors, the median number of factors studied was 5 (range, 1–10), and 47.5% with MRSA had ≥1 health care–associated risk factor. The risk factors included those previously identified. In the remaining surveillance study, the MRSA colonization prevalence was 0.20% among 3525 people without prior health care contact. Compared with subjects in the 9 stratified studies with a health care contact, subjects in this study were 90% less likely to have MRSA (relative risk, 0.10; 95% CI, 0.05–0.21). Cultures for 3898 subjects in 7 of the 10 surveillance studies were obtained at the time of a hospital admission, an outpatient clinic visit, or an emergency department visit, and the pooled prevalence of MRSA colonization was 1.8%. In 3 studies in which cultures were obtained outside of a health care facility (schools, day care centers, homeless shelters, or military bases), the pooled MRSA colonization prevalence among 4452 subjects was reported to be 0.76%. Therefore, subjects in a health care facility were 2.35 times more likely to carry MRSA than were subjects outside of a health care facility (95% CI, 1.56–3.53). In one study examining 94 subjects in a semiclosed community, the prevalence of MRSA colonization was 7.4%. These subjects were 36 times more likely to carry MRSA than were subjects who were not in a semiclosed community (95% CI, 13.7–94.7).
The studies also identified 70 MRSA isolates (pure form of an organism in a microbial culture) from subjects who reported no health care–associated risk factors. Strain typing was performed with 32 isolates, and 29 (91%) isolates were similar to strains identified in hospitals. The colonization status of 191 household contacts of 93 patients with nosocomial MRSA colonization discharged from the hospital was examined in 4 studies. The results demonstrated that 17.8% of the contact subjects were colonized with a strain of MRSA having the same antibiogram (record of the susceptibility of bacteria to antibiotics) as the index case (initial individual with the strain). The authors reported that subjects who had household contacts with MRSA-colonized patients were 14 times more likely to be colonized than were community subjects without a known MRSA contact (95% CI, 9.8–20.1). In 4 studies examining 517 sports team members or day care contacts of persons known to be colonized with MRSA, 5.4% demonstrated colonization of MRSA with the same strain as the index case.
Conclusions: Based on the available data, the prevalence of MRSA among community members without health care–associated risk factors was relatively low. However, 85% of hospital patients diagnosed with CA-MRSA and 47.5% of healthy community members colonized with MRSA were found to have ≥1 health care–associated risk factor. The risk factors identified were recent hospitalization, outpatient visit, nursing home admission, antibiotic exposure, chronic illness, injection drug use, and close contact with a person with risk factor(s). Most MRSA colonization occurred among community members who had health care–associated risk factors or contact with persons with risk factors. The evidence indicated that control of MRSA in the community may require control of MRSA in the health care setting (hospital, health care office, and nursing home). The absence of a standardized definition for CA-MRSA and questions regarding the actual site of colonization versus acquisition should be considered in the interpretation of these findings.
PMCID: PMC1569547  PMID: 17043704
infectious diseases
13.  Vancomycin In Vitro Bactericidal Activity and Its Relationship to Efficacy in Clearance of Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus Bacteremia▿  
We examined the relationship between the time to clearance of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) bacteremia while patients were receiving vancomycin therapy and the in vitro bactericidal activity of vancomycin. Vancomycin killing assays were performed with 34 MRSA bloodstream isolates (17 accessory gene regulator group II [agr-II] and 17 non-agr-II isolates) from 34 different patients with MRSA bacteremia for whom clinical and microbiological outcomes data were available. Vancomycin doses were prospectively adjusted to achieve peak plasma concentrations of 28 to 32 μg/ml and trough concentrations of 8 to 12 μg/ml. Bactericidal assays were performed over 24 h with ∼107 to 108 CFU/ml in broth containing 16 μg/ml vancomycin. The median time to clearance of bacteremia was 6.5 days for patients with MRSA isolates demonstrating ≥2.5 reductions in log10 CFU/ml at 24 h and >10.5 days for patients with MRSA isolates demonstrating <2.5 log10 CFU/ml by 24 h (P = 0.025). The median time to clearance was significantly longer with MRSA isolates with vancomycin MICs of 2.0 μg/ml compared to that with MRSA isolates with MICs of ≤1.0 μg/ml (P = 0.019). The bacteremia caused by MRSA isolates with absent or severely reduced delta-hemolysin expression was of a longer duration of bacteremia (10 days and 6.5 days, respectively; P = 0.27) and had a decreased probability of eradication (44% and 78%, respectively; P = 0.086). We conclude that strain-specific microbiological features of MRSA, such as increased vancomycin MICs and decreased killing by vancomycin, appear to be predictive of prolonged MRSA bacteremia while patients are receiving vancomycin therapy. Prolonged bacteremia and decreased delta-hemolysin expression may also be related. Evaluation of these properties may be useful in the consideration of antimicrobial therapies that can be used as alternatives to vancomycin for the treatment of MRSA bacteremia.
PMCID: PMC1913284  PMID: 17452488
14.  Methicillin Resistance Alters the Biofilm Phenotype and Attenuates Virulence in Staphylococcus aureus Device-Associated Infections 
PLoS Pathogens  2012;8(4):e1002626.
Clinical isolates of Staphylococcus aureus can express biofilm phenotypes promoted by the major cell wall autolysin and the fibronectin-binding proteins or the icaADBC-encoded polysaccharide intercellular adhesin/poly-N-acetylglucosamine (PIA/PNAG). Biofilm production in methicillin-susceptible S. aureus (MSSA) strains is typically dependent on PIA/PNAG whereas methicillin-resistant isolates express an Atl/FnBP-mediated biofilm phenotype suggesting a relationship between susceptibility to β-lactam antibiotics and biofilm. By introducing the methicillin resistance gene mecA into the PNAG-producing laboratory strain 8325-4 we generated a heterogeneously resistant (HeR) strain, from which a homogeneous, high-level resistant (HoR) derivative was isolated following exposure to oxacillin. The HoR phenotype was associated with a R602H substitution in the DHHA1 domain of GdpP, a recently identified c-di-AMP phosphodiesterase with roles in resistance/tolerance to β-lactam antibiotics and cell envelope stress. Transcription of icaADBC and PNAG production were impaired in the 8325-4 HoR derivative, which instead produced a proteinaceous biofilm that was significantly inhibited by antibodies against the mecA-encoded penicillin binding protein 2a (PBP2a). Conversely excision of the SCCmec element in the MRSA strain BH1CC resulted in oxacillin susceptibility and reduced biofilm production, both of which were complemented by mecA alone. Transcriptional activity of the accessory gene regulator locus was also repressed in the 8325-4 HoR strain, which in turn was accompanied by reduced protease production and significantly reduced virulence in a mouse model of device infection. Thus, homogeneous methicillin resistance has the potential to affect agr- and icaADBC-mediated phenotypes, including altered biofilm expression and virulence, which together are consistent with the adaptation of healthcare-associated MRSA strains to the antibiotic-rich hospital environment in which they are frequently responsible for device-related infections in immuno-compromised patients.
Author Summary
The acquisition of mecA, which encodes penicillin binding protein 2a (PBP2a) and methicillin resistance, by Staphylococcus aureus has added to an already impressive array of virulence mechanisms including enzyme and toxin production, biofilm forming capacity and immune evasion. And yet clinical data does not indicate that healthcare-associated methicillin resistant S. aureus (MRSA) strains are more virulent than their methicillin-susceptible counterparts. Here our findings suggest that MRSA sacrifices virulence potential for antibiotic resistance and that expression of methicillin resistance alters the biofilm phenotype but does not interfere with the colonization of implanted medical devices in vivo. High level expression of PBP2a, which was associated with a mutation in the c-di-AMP phosphodiesterase gene gdpP, resulted in these pleiotrophic effects by blocking icaADBC-dependent polysaccharide type biofilm development and promoting an alternative PBP2a-mediated biofilm, repressing the accessory gene regulator and extracellular protease production, and attenuating virulence in a mouse device-infection model. Thus the adaptation of MRSA to the hospital environment has apparently focused on the acquisition of antibiotic resistance and retention of biofilm forming capacity, which are likely to be more advantageous than metabolically-expensive enzyme and toxin production in immunocompromised patients with implanted medical devices offering a route to infection.
PMCID: PMC3320603  PMID: 22496652
15.  Isolates with Low-Level Vancomycin Resistance Associated with Persistent Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus Bacteremia 
Low-level vancomycin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (vancomycin-intermediate S. aureus [VISA] and heterogenous VISA [hVISA]) is increasingly reported and leads to glycopeptide treatment failure. Various phenotypic features have been reported for these isolates, but the genetic changes leading to hVISA and VISA have yet to be clearly determined. We assessed phenotypic, antibiotic resistance, and genomic changes by using genomic DNA microarray comparison and sequencing of selected loci in five pairs of clinical hVISA/VISA strains and the initial methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) isolates obtained prior to vancomycin therapy. The isolates were from adult patients in Australia and New Zealand who had persistent MRSA bacteremia (>7 days) while receiving vancomycin therapy. In all cases, the initial isolates were found to be fully vancomycin-susceptible Staphylococcus aureus (VSSA). The hVISA/VISA phenotype was associated with increased cell wall thickness, reduced autolytic activity in four of five hVISA/VISA strains, and a striking reduction in biofilm formation compared to the parent strains in all pairs. All five pairs appeared to be isogenic, and genomic DNA microarray comparison suggested that major genetic changes are not required for the development of the resistant phenotype in these strains. No sequence differences were found in the agr locus or the tcaRA genes for any pair, but a marked reduction in RNAIII expression was found in four pairs. In summary, hVISA/VISA arises from fully VSSA during persistent infection that fails to respond to glycopeptide therapy and is associated with significant phenotypic changes, including a marked reduction in biofilm-forming ability. These clinically derived pairs of isolates will be a useful resource to elucidate the genetic mechanism of resistance in hVISA/VISA strains.
PMCID: PMC1563555  PMID: 16940100
16.  The impact of vancomycin susceptibility on treatment outcomes among patients with methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus bacteremia 
BMC Infectious Diseases  2011;11:335.
Management of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) bacteremia remains a challenge. The emergence of MRSA strains with reduced vancomycin susceptibility complicates treatment.
A prospective cohort study (2005-2007) of patients with MRSA bacteremia treated with vancomycin was performed at an academic hospital. Vancomycin minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC) and minimum bactericidal concentration (MBC) were determined for stored MRSA isolates. Cox regression analysis was performed to predict 28-day all-cause mortality.
One hundred sixty-three patients with MRSA bacteremia were evaluated. One hundred twelve patients (68.7%) had bacteremia due to MRSA with a vancomycin MIC ≥ 2 ug/mL. Among strains with a vancomycin MIC ≥ 2 ug/mL, 10 isolates (8.9%) were vancomycin-intermediate S. aureus (VISA). Thirty-five patients (21.5%) died within 28 days after the diagnosis of MRSA bacteremia. Higher vancomycin MIC was not associated with mortality in this cohort [adjusted hazard ratio (aHR), 1.57; 95% confidence interval (CI), 0.73-3.37]. Vancomycin tolerance was observed in 4.3% (7/162) of isolates and was not associated with mortality (crude HR, 0.62; 95% CI, 0.08-4.50). Factors independently associated with mortality included higher age (aHR, 1.03; 95% CI 1.00-1.05), cirrhosis (aHR, 3.01; 95% CI, 1.24-7.30), and intensive care unit admission within 48 hours after the diagnosis of bacteremia (aHR, 5.99; 95% CI, 2.86-12.58).
Among patients with MRSA bacteremia treated with vancomycin, reduced vancomycin susceptibility and vancomycin tolerance were not associated with mortality after adjusting for patient factors. Patient factors including severity of illness and underlying co-morbidities were associated with the mortality.
PMCID: PMC3254119  PMID: 22142287
17.  Associations between the Genotypes of Staphylococcus aureus Bloodstream Isolates and Clinical Characteristics and Outcomes of Bacteremic Patients ▿  
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2008;46(9):2890-2896.
We investigated associations between the genotypic and phenotypic features of Staphylococcus aureus bloodstream isolates and the clinical characteristics of bacteremic patients enrolled in a phase III trial of S. aureus bacteremia and endocarditis. Isolates underwent pulsed-field gel electrophoresis, PCR for 33 putative virulence genes, and screening for heteroresistant glycopeptide intermediate S. aureus (hGISA). A total of 230 isolates (141 methicillin-susceptible S. aureus and 89 methicillin-resistant S. aureus [MRSA]) were analyzed. North American and European S. aureus isolates differed in their genotypic characteristics. Overall, 26% of the MRSA bloodstream isolates were USA 300 strains. Patients with USA 300 MRSA bacteremia were more likely to be injection drug users (61% versus 15%; P < 0.001), to have right-sided endocarditis (39% versus 9%; P = 0.002), and to be cured of right-sided endocarditis (100% versus 33%; P = 0.01) than patients with non-USA 300 MRSA bacteremia. Patients with persistent bacteremia were less likely to be infected with Panton-Valentine leukocidin gene (pvl)-constitutive MRSA (19% versus 56%; P = 0.005). Although 7 of 89 MRSA isolates (8%) exhibited the hGISA phenotype, no association with persistent bacteremia, daptomycin resistance, or bacterial genotype was observed. This study suggests that the virulence gene profiles of S. aureus bloodstream isolates from North America and Europe differ significantly. In this study of bloodstream isolates collected as part of a multinational randomized clinical trial, USA 300 and pvl-constitutive MRSA strains were associated with better clinical outcomes.
PMCID: PMC2546778  PMID: 18596141
18.  Clinical Characteristics, Outcomes, and Microbiologic Features Associated with Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus Bacteremia in Pediatric Patients Treated with Vancomycin ▿  
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2010;48(3):894-899.
Vancomycin is the first-line therapy for methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) bacteremia, but its efficacy in adult patients has been questioned. Less is known about the outcomes of MRSA bacteremia treated with vancomycin in pediatric patients. This study reviews the outcomes and clinical characteristics of MRSA bacteremia in children treated with vancomycin and characterizes the microbiologic and molecular features of the bloodstream isolates. A retrospective cohort study was conducted among pediatric patients with MRSA bacteremia treated with vancomycin for >5 days from 1 August 2005 to 31 May 2007 in a large tertiary care center. MRSA bloodstream isolates were characterized by antimicrobial susceptibility testing, PCR analysis of virulence genes, and Diversilab typing. Clinical records were reviewed for outcomes and comorbidities. A total of 22 pediatric patients with MRSA bacteremia were identified. Eleven cases (50.0%) were considered vancomycin treatment failures. Features significantly associated with vancomycin treatment failure were prematurity (P = 0.02) and isolates positive for Panton-Valentine leukocidin (PVL) (P = 0.008). Features typically associated with community-associated MRSA strains were identified in hospital-associated isolates. A dominant clone was not responsible for the high number of treatment failures. Further studies are needed to determine if vancomycin should be the first-line treatment for MRSA bacteremia in premature infants and for PVL-positive isolates.
PMCID: PMC2832419  PMID: 20089758
19.  Geographic Distribution of Staphylococcus aureus Causing Invasive Infections in Europe: A Molecular-Epidemiological Analysis 
PLoS Medicine  2010;7(1):e1000215.
Hajo Grundmann and colleagues describe the development of a new interactive mapping tool for analyzing the spatial distribution of invasive Staphylococcus aureus clones.
Staphylococcus aureus is one of the most important human pathogens and methicillin-resistant variants (MRSAs) are a major cause of hospital and community-acquired infection. We aimed to map the geographic distribution of the dominant clones that cause invasive infections in Europe.
Methods and Findings
In each country, staphylococcal reference laboratories secured the participation of a sufficient number of hospital laboratories to achieve national geo-demographic representation. Participating laboratories collected successive methicillin-susceptible (MSSA) and MRSA isolates from patients with invasive S. aureus infection using an agreed protocol. All isolates were sent to the respective national reference laboratories and characterised by quality-controlled sequence typing of the variable region of the staphylococcal spa gene (spa typing), and data were uploaded to a central database. Relevant genetic and phenotypic information was assembled for interactive interrogation by a purpose-built Web-based mapping application. Between September 2006 and February 2007, 357 laboratories serving 450 hospitals in 26 countries collected 2,890 MSSA and MRSA isolates from patients with invasive S. aureus infection. A wide geographical distribution of spa types was found with some prevalent in all European countries. MSSA were more diverse than MRSA. Genetic diversity of MRSA differed considerably between countries with dominant MRSA spa types forming distinctive geographical clusters. We provide evidence that a network approach consisting of decentralised typing and visualisation of aggregated data using an interactive mapping tool can provide important information on the dynamics of MRSA populations such as early signalling of emerging strains, cross border spread, and importation by travel.
In contrast to MSSA, MRSA spa types have a predominantly regional distribution in Europe. This finding is indicative of the selection and spread of a limited number of clones within health care networks, suggesting that control efforts aimed at interrupting the spread within and between health care institutions may not only be feasible but ultimately successful and should therefore be strongly encouraged.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
The bacterium Staphylococcus aureus lives on the skin and in the nose of about a third of healthy people. Although S. aureus usually coexists peacefully with its human carriers, it is also an important disease-causing organism or pathogen. If it enters the body through a cut or during a surgical procedure, S. aureus can cause minor infections such as pimples and boils or more serious, life-threatening infections such as blood poisoning and pneumonia. Minor S. aureus infections can be treated without antibiotics—by draining a boil, for example. Invasive infections are usually treated with antibiotics. Unfortunately, many of the S. aureus clones (groups of bacteria that are all genetically related and descended from a single, common ancestor) that are now circulating are resistant to methicillin and several other antibiotics. Invasive methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA) infections are a particular problem in hospitals and other health care facilities (so-called hospital-acquired MRSA infections), but they can also occur in otherwise healthy people who have not been admitted to a hospital (community-acquired MRSA infections).
Why Was This Study Done?
The severity and outcome of an S. aureus infection in an individual depends in part on the ability of the bacterial clone with which the individual is infected to cause disease—the clone's “virulence.” Public-health officials and infectious disease experts would like to know the geographic distribution of the virulent S. aureus clones that cause invasive infections, because this information should help them understand how these pathogens spread and thus how to control them. Different clones of S. aureus can be distinguished by “molecular typing,” the determination of clone-specific sequences of nucleotides in variable regions of the bacterial genome (the bacterium's blueprint; genomes consist of DNA, long chains of nucleotides). In this study, the researchers use molecular typing to map the geographic distribution of MRSA and methicillin-sensitive S. aureus (MSSA) clones causing invasive infections in Europe; a MRSA clone emerges when an MSSA clone acquires antibiotic resistance from another type of bacteria so it is useful to understand the geographic distribution of both MRSA and MSSA.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
Between September 2006 and February 2007, 357 laboratories serving 450 hospitals in 26 European countries collected almost 3,000 MRSA and MSSA isolates from patients with invasive S. aureus infections. The isolates were sent to the relevant national staphylococcal reference laboratory (SRL) where they were characterized by quality-controlled sequence typing of the variable region of a staphylococcal gene called spa (spa typing). The spa typing data were entered into a central database and then analyzed by a public, purpose-built Web-based mapping tool (SRL-Maps), which provides interactive access and easy-to-understand illustrations of the geographical distribution of S. aureus clones. Using this mapping tool, the researchers found that there was a wide geographical distribution of spa types across Europe with some types being common in all European countries. MSSA isolates were more diverse than MRSA isolates and the genetic diversity (variability) of MRSA differed considerably between countries. Most importantly, major MRSA spa types occurred in distinct geographical clusters.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings provide the first representative snapshot of the genetic population structure of S. aureus across Europe. Because the researchers used spa typing, which analyzes only a small region of one gene, and characterized only 3,000 isolates, analysis of other parts of the S. aureus genome in more isolates is now needed to build a complete portrait of the geographical abundance of the S. aureus clones that cause invasive infections in Europe. However, the finding that MRSA spa types occur mainly in geographical clusters has important implications for the control of MRSA, because it indicates that a limited number of clones are spreading within health care networks, which means that MRSA is mainly spread by patients who are repeatedly admitted to different hospitals. Control efforts aimed at interrupting this spread within and between health care institutions may be feasible and ultimately successful, suggest the researchers, and should be strongly encouraged. In addition, this study shows how, by sharing typing results on a Web-based platform, an international surveillance network can provide clinicians and infection control teams with crucial information about the dynamics of pathogens such as S. aureus, including early warnings about emerging virulent clones.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
This study is further discussed in a PLoS Medicine Perspective by Franklin D. Lowy
The UK Health Protection Agency provides information about Staphylococcus aureus
The UK National Health Service Choices Web site has pages on staphylococcal infections and on MRSA
The US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease has information about MRSA
The US Centers for Disease Control and Infection provides information about MRSA for the public and professionals
MedlinePlus provides links to further resources on staphylococcal infections and on MRSA (in English and Spanish)
SRL-Maps can be freely accessed
PMCID: PMC2796391  PMID: 20084094
20.  Phenotypic resistance to thrombin-induced platelet microbicidal protein in vitro is correlated with enhanced virulence in experimental endocarditis due to Staphylococcus aureus. 
Infection and Immunity  1997;65(8):3293-3299.
Thrombin-induced platelet microbicidal protein (tPMP) is secreted by rabbit platelets following thrombin stimulation, and it kills common endovascular pathogens in vitro, including Staphylococcus aureus. Therefore, pathogens which exhibit tPMP resistance in vitro possess a potential survival advantage in vivo at sites of endovascular damage. We generated an isogenic S. aureus strain pair, differing in tPMP susceptibility, by transposon (Tn551) mutagenesis of a tPMP-susceptible (tPMPs) parental strain (ISP479) to derive a stably tPMP-resistant (tPMPr) strain, ISP479R. ISP479 and ISP479R were equivalent in vitro in the following phenotypes: biotyping, antiobiograms, platelet adherence and aggregation, growth kinetics, cell wall-associated protein A expression, and fibrinogen binding. Genotypic comparisons of chromosomal DNA of strains ISP479 and ISP479R following restriction endonuclease digestion revealed indistinguishable pulsed-field gel electrophoretic patterns. The genotype exhibited by strain ISP479R was linked to the tPMP-resistant phenotype, as it was transducible into the initially tPMP-susceptible parental strain, ISP479. Southern hybridization verified the presence of a single copy of Tn551 in the same chromosomal restriction site of both ISP479R and tPMPr transductants of ISP479. The correlation of in vitro tPMP susceptibility phenotypes with the ability to induce experimental endocarditis (a prototypical endovascular infection) was evaluated. Despite equivalent rates of endocarditis induction, animals infected with strain ISP479R achieved significantly higher vegetation bacterial densities over a 7-day post-challenge period than did animals infected with strain ISP479. These data suggest that tPMPr microbial strains have a selective advantage in experimental staphylococcal endocarditis. Furthermore, the major impact of tPMP resistance upon endocarditis pathogenesis appears to involve a postvalvular adherence event(s), most probably by facilitating bacterial proliferation within vegetations.
PMCID: PMC175466  PMID: 9234789
21.  Characterization of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus isolates from patients with persistent or recurrent bacteremia 
Bloodstream infections caused by methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus represent a considerable risk for the patient, particularly when the infection is persistant or recurrent. The authors of this study aimed to determine whether methicillin-resistant S aureus isolated from patients with persistant or recurrent infections differed from those isolated from patients with bloodstream infections that were not persistent or recurrent.
Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) bloodstream infections (BSI) are associated with considerable morbidity and mortality, especially with persistent (PB) or recurrent bacteremia (RB).
To determine the frequency of PB and RB in patients with MRSA BSI, and to characterize the isolates from these patients.
Surveillance for MRSA BSI was performed for one year in 13 Canadian hospitals. PB was defined as a positive blood culture that persisted for ≥7 days; RB was defined as the recurrence of a positive blood culture ≥14 days following a negative culture. Isolates were typed using pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE). Vancomycin susceptibility was determined using Etest.
A total of 183 patients with MRSA BSI were identified; 14 (7.7%) had PB and five (2.7%) had RB. Ten (5.5%) patients were known to have infective endocarditis, and five of these patients had PB or RB. Initial and subsequent MRSA isolates from patients with PB and RB had the same PFGE type. There were no significant differences in the distribution of PFGE types in patients with PB or RB (37% CMRSA-2/USA100; 37% CMRSA-10/USA300) compared with that in other patients (56% CMRSA-2/USA100; 32% CMRSA-10/USA300). All isolates were susceptible to vancomycin, but patients with PB or RB were more likely to have initial isolates with vancomycin minimum inhibitory concentration = 2.0 μg/mL (26% versus 10%; P=0.06).
Persistent or recurrent MRSA bacteremia occurred in 10.4% of patients with MRSA BSIs. Initial isolates from patients with persistent or recurrent MRSA BSIs were more likely to exhibit reduced susceptibility to vancomcyin, but were not associated with any genotype.
PMCID: PMC4028673  PMID: 24855475
Bacteremia; Bloodstream infection; Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus; MRSA
22.  In Vitro Resistance of Staphylococcus aureus to Thrombin-Induced Platelet Microbicidal Protein Is Associated with Alterations in Cytoplasmic Membrane Fluidity 
Infection and Immunity  2000;68(6):3548-3553.
Platelet microbicidal proteins (PMPs) are small, cationic peptides which possess potent microbicidal activities against common bloodstream pathogens, such as Staphylococcus aureus. We previously showed that S. aureus strains exhibiting resistance to thrombin-induced PMP (tPMP-1) in vitro have an enhanced capacity to cause human and experimental endocarditis (T. Wu, M. R. Yeaman, and A. S. Bayer, Antimicrob. Agents Chemother. 38:729–732, 1994; A. S. Bayer et al., Antimicrob. Agents Chemother. 42:3169–3172, 1998; V. K. Dhawan et al., Infect. Immun. 65:3293–3299, 1997). However, the mechanisms mediating tPMP-1 resistance in S. aureus are not fully delineated. The S. aureus cell membrane appears to be a principal target for the action of tPMP-1. To gain insight into the basis of tPMP-1 resistance, we compared several parameters of membrane structure and function in three tPMP-1-resistant (tPMP-1r) strains and their genetically related, tPMP-1-susceptible (tPMP-1s) counterpart strains. The tPMP-1r strains were derived by three distinct methods: transposon mutagenesis, serial passage in the presence of tPMP-1 in vitro, or carriage of a naturally occurring multiresistance plasmid (pSK1). All tPMP-1r strains were found to possess elevated levels of longer-chain, unsaturated membrane lipids, in comparison to their tPMP-1s counterparts. This was reflected in corresponding differences in cell membrane fluidity in the strain pairs, with tPMP-1r strains exhibiting significantly higher degrees of fluidity as assessed by fluorescence polarization. These data provide further support for the concept that specific alterations in the cytoplasmic membrane of S. aureus strains are associated with tPMP-1 resistance in vitro.
PMCID: PMC97641  PMID: 10816510
23.  Platelet microbicidal proteins and neutrophil defensin disrupt the Staphylococcus aureus cytoplasmic membrane by distinct mechanisms of action. 
Journal of Clinical Investigation  1998;101(1):178-187.
Platelet microbicidal proteins (PMPs) are hypothesized to exert microbicidal effects via cytoplasmic membrane disruption. Transmission electron microscopy demonstrated a temporal association between PMP exposure, damage of the Staphylococcus aureus cytoplasmic membrane ultrastructure, and subsequent cell death. To investigate the mechanisms of action of PMPs leading to membrane damage, we used flow cytometry to compare the effects of two distinct PMPs (thrombin-induced PMP-1 [tPMP-1] or PMP-2) with human neutrophil defensin-1 (hNP-1) on transmembrane potential (Deltapsi), membrane permeabilization, and killing of S. aureus. Related strains 6850 (Deltapsi -150 mV) and JB-1 (Deltapsi -100 mV; a respiration-deficient menadione auxotroph of 6850) were used to assess the influence of Deltapsi on peptide microbicidal effects. Propidium iodide (PI) uptake was used to detect membrane permeabilization, retention of 3,3'-dipentyloxacarbocyanine (DiOC5) was used to monitor membrane depolarization (Deltapsi), and quantitative culture or acridine orange accumulation was used to measure viability. PMP-2 rapidly depolarized and permeabilized strain 6850, with the extent of permeabilization inversely related to pH. tPMP-1 failed to depolarize strain 6850, but did permeabilize this strain in a manner directly related to pH. Depolarization, permeabilization, and killing of strain JB-1 due to PMPs were significantly less than in strain 6850. Growth in menadione reconstituted Deltapsi of JB-1 to a level equivalent to 6850, and was associated with greater depolarization due to PMP-2, but not tPMP-1. Reconstitution of Deltapsi also enhanced permeabilization and killing of JB-1 due to tPMP-1 or PMP-2. Both PMP-2 and tPMP-1 caused significant reductions in viability of strain 6850. In contrast to tPMP-1 or PMP-2, defensin hNP-1 depolarized, permeabilized, and killed both strains 6850 and JB-1 equally, and in a manner directly related to pH. Collectively, these data indicate that membrane dysfunction and cell death due to tPMP-1, PMP-2, or hNP-1 likely involve different mechanisms. These findings may also reveal new insights into the microbicidal activities versus mammalian cell toxicities of antimicrobial peptides.
PMCID: PMC508554  PMID: 9421480
24.  The cytoplasmic membrane is a primary target for the staphylocidal action of thrombin-induced platelet microbicidal protein. 
Infection and Immunity  1997;65(11):4795-4800.
Thrombin-induced platelet microbicidal protein (tPMP-1) is a small, cationic peptide released from rabbit platelets exposed to thrombin in vitro. tPMP-1 is microbicidal against a broad spectrum of bloodstream pathogens, including Staphylococcus aureus. Preliminary evidence suggests that tPMP-1 targets and disrupts the staphylococcal cytoplasmic membrane. However, it is not clear if the cytoplasmic membrane is a direct or indirect target of tPMP-1. Therefore, we assessed the in vitro activity of tPMP-1 versus protoplasts prepared from logarithmic-phase (LOG) or stationary-phase (STAT) cells of the genetically related S. aureus strains 19S and 19R (tPMP-1 susceptible and resistant, respectively). Protoplasts exposed to tPMP-1 (2 microg/ml) for 2 h at 37 degrees C were monitored for lysis (decrease in optical density at 420 nm) and ultrastructural alterations (by transmission electron microscopy [TEM]). Exposure to tPMP-1 resulted in substantial lysis of LOG but not STAT protoplasts of 19S, coinciding with protoplast membrane disruption observed by TEM. Thus, it appears that tPMP-1-induced membrane damage is influenced by the bacterial growth phase but is independent of the staphylococcal cell wall. In contrast to 19S, neither LOG nor STAT protoplasts of 19R were lysed by tPMP-1. tPMP-1-induced membrane damage was further characterized with anionic planar lipid bilayers subjected to various trans-negative voltages. tPMP-1 increased conductance across bilayers at -90 mV but not at -30 mV. Once initiated, a reduction in voltage from -90 to -30 mV diminished conductance magnitude but did not eliminate tPMP-1-mediated membrane permeabilization. Therefore, tPMP-1 appears to directly target the staphylococcal cytoplasmic membrane as a primary event in its mechanism of action. Specifically, tPMP-1 likely leads to staphylococcal death, at least in part by permeabilizing the bacterial membrane in a voltage-dependent manner.
PMCID: PMC175688  PMID: 9353067
25.  Low-Level Resistance of Staphylococcus aureus to Thrombin-Induced Platelet Microbicidal Protein 1 In Vitro Associated with qacA Gene Carriage Is Independent of Multidrug Efflux Pump Activity 
Thrombin-induced platelet microbial protein 1 (tPMP-1), a cationic antimicrobial polypeptide released from thrombin-stimulated rabbit platelets, targets the Staphylococcus aureus cytoplasmic membrane to initiate its microbicidal effects. In vitro resistance to tPMP-1 correlates with survival advantages in vivo. In S. aureus, the plasmid-carried qacA gene encodes a multidrug transporter, conferring resistance to organic cations (e.g., ethidium [Et]) via proton motive force (PMF)-energized export. We previously showed that qacA also confers a tPMP-1-resistant (tPMP-1r) phenotype in vitro. The current study evaluated whether (i) transporters encoded by the qacB and qacC multidrug resistance genes also confer tPMP-1r and (ii) tPMP-1r mediated by qacA is dependent on efflux pump activity. In contrast to tPMP-1r qacA-bearing strains, the parental strain and its isogenic qacB- and qacC-containing strains were tPMP-1 susceptible (tPMP-1s). Efflux pump inhibition by cyanide m-chlorophenylhydrazone abrogated Etr, but not tPMP-1r, in the qacA-bearing strain. In synergy assays, exposure of the qacA-bearing strain to tPMP-1 did not affect the susceptibility of Et (ruling out Et-tPMP-1 cotransport). The following cytoplasmic membrane parameters did not differ significantly between the qacA-bearing and parental strains: contents of the major phospholipids; asymmetric distributions of the positively charged species, lysyl-phosphotidylglycerol; fatty acid composition; and relative surface charge. Of note, the qacA-bearing strain exhibited greater membrane fluidity than that of the parental, qacB-, or qacC-bearing strain. In conclusion, among these families of efflux pumps, only the multidrug transporter encoded by qacA conferred a tPMP-1r phenotype. These data suggest that qacA-encoded tPMP-1r results from the impact of a specific transporter upon membrane structure or function unrelated to PMF-dependent peptide efflux.
PMCID: PMC1489806  PMID: 16801425

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