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1.  Panton-Valentine Leukocidin-Positive Staphylococcus aureus in Ireland from 2002 to 2011: 21 Clones, Frequent Importation of Clones, Temporal Shifts of Predominant Methicillin-Resistant S. aureus Clones, and Increasing Multiresistance 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2014;52(3):859-870.
There has been a worldwide increase in community-associated (CA) methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infections. CA-MRSA isolates commonly produce the Panton-Valentine leukocidin toxin encoded by the pvl genes lukF-PV and lukS-PV. This study investigated the clinical and molecular epidemiologies of pvl-positive MRSA and methicillin-susceptible S. aureus (MSSA) isolates identified by the Irish National MRSA Reference Laboratory (NMRSARL) between 2002 and 2011. All pvl-positive MRSA (n = 190) and MSSA (n = 39) isolates underwent antibiogram-resistogram typing, spa typing, and DNA microarray profiling for multilocus sequence type, clonal complex (CC) and/or sequence type (ST), staphylococcal cassette chromosome mec type assignment, and virulence and resistance gene detection. Where available, patient demographics and clinical data were analyzed. The prevalence of pvl-positive MRSA increased from 0.2% to 8.8%, and that of pvl-positive MSSA decreased from 20% to 2.5% during the study period. The pvl-positive MRSA and MSSA isolates belonged to 16 and 5 genotypes, respectively, with CC/ST8-MRSA-IV, CC/ST30-MRSA-IV, CC/ST80-MRSA-IV, CC1/ST772-MRSA-V, CC30-MSSA, CC22-MSSA, and CC121-MSSA predominating. Temporal shifts in the predominant pvl-positive MRSA genotypes and a 6-fold increase in multiresistant pvl-positive MRSA genotypes occurred during the study period. An analysis of patient data indicated that pvl-positive S. aureus strains, especially MRSA strains, had been imported into Ireland several times. Two hospital and six family clusters of pvl-positive MRSA were identified, and 70% of the patient isolates for which information was available were from patients in the community. This study highlights the increased burden and changing molecular epidemiology of pvl-positive S. aureus in Ireland over the last decade and the contribution of international travel to the influx of genetically diverse pvl-positive S. aureus isolates into Ireland.
PMCID: PMC3957793  PMID: 24371244
2.  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
3.  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
4.  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
5.  Presence of Genes Encoding the Panton-Valentine Leukocidin Exotoxin Is Not the Primary Determinant of Outcome in Patients with Complicated Skin and Skin Structure Infections Due to Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus: Results of a Multinational Trial▿  
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2009;47(12):3952-3957.
The role of Panton-Valentine leukocidin (PVL) in determining the severity and outcome of complicated skin and skin structure infections (cSSSI) caused by methicillin (meticillin)-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is controversial. We evaluated potential associations between clinical outcome and PVL status by using MRSA isolates from patients enrolled in two large, multinational phase three clinical trials assessing telavancin for the treatment of cSSSI (the ATLAS program). MRSA isolates from microbiologically evaluable patients were genotyped by pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) and PCR for pvl and 31 other putative virulence determinants. A single baseline pathogen of MRSA was isolated from 522 microbiologically evaluable patients (25.1%) among 2,079 randomized patients. Of these MRSA isolates, 83.2% (432/519) exhibited the USA300 PFGE genotype and 89.1% (465/522) were pvl positive. Patients with pvl-positive MRSA were more likely than those with pvl-negative MRSA to be young, to be North American, and to present with major abscesses (P < 0.001 for each). Patients were significantly more likely to be cured if they were infected with pvl-positive MRSA than if they were infected with pvl-negative MRSA (91.6% versus 80.7%; P = 0.015). This observation remained statistically significant after adjustment for presence of abscess, fever, or leukocytosis; infection size; diabetes; patient age; and study medication received. The fnbA, cna, sdrC, map-eap, sed, seg, sei, sej, SCCmec type IV, and agr group II genes were also associated with clinical response (P < 0.05). This contemporary, international study demonstrates that pvl was not the primary determinant of outcome in patients with MRSA cSSSI.
PMCID: PMC2786648  PMID: 19846653
6.  Incidence, Risk Factors, and Outcomes of Panton-Valentine Leukocidin-Positive Methicillin-Susceptible Staphylococcus aureus Infections in Auckland, New Zealand ▿  
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2010;48(10):3470-3474.
Panton-Valentine leukocidin (PVL) has been linked to invasive community-acquired methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus infections. However, the association between disease and PVL-positive methicillin-susceptible Staphylococcus aureus (MSSA) has not been widely reported. We aimed to examine the epidemiology of PVL in clinical MSSA isolates from patients presenting to Auckland City Hospital. Four hundred eleven MSSA clinical isolates and 93 nasal carriage isolates were collected and tested for the presence of the lukSF-PV genes using PCR. The results were examined in light of host and disease factors. Multilocus sequence typing (MLST) was performed on a random subset of isolates to ensure that there was no single PVL-positive MSSA clone responsible for disease in Auckland. The prevalence of the lukSF-PV genes in MSSA isolates associated with disease (124/335; 37%) was not significantly different from the prevalence of the lukSF-PV genes in MSSA nasal carriage isolates (29/93; 31% [P = 0.33]). PVL-positive MSSA isolates in Auckland are genetically diverse and come from a number of different clonal complexes. PVL-positive infections peaked at between 10 and 20 years of age, with a subsequent decline. Pacific ethnicity, age, diagnosis of skin and soft tissue infection (SSTI), community-onset infection, and the need for surgical intervention were found by multivariate analysis to be independently associated with PVL-positive MSSA infection. More than one-third of MSSA infections in our patient population are caused by PVL-positive strains. Those patients with PVL-positive MSSA infection were more likely to be of Pacific ethnicity, be younger in age, have community-onset infection, have SSTI, and need surgical intervention.
PMCID: PMC2953091  PMID: 20686081
7.  Genetically restricted, methicillin-susceptible strains contribute to the ongoing epidemic of community-acquired Staphylococcus aureus infections 
Within the current worldwide epidemic of community-acquired Staphylococcus aureus infections, attention has focused on the role of methicillin-resistant strains. We characterized methicillin-susceptible strains that also contribute.
We tracked cultures from abscesses submitted to the microbiology laboratory at St. Louis Children’s Hospital. We also sought Panton-Valentine leukocidin (PVL) genes in methicillin-susceptible Staphylococcus aureus (MSSA) isolates, and we further characterized some isolates by multilocus sequence typing (MLST), pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE), antibiotic susceptibility, accessory gene regulator (agr) allele, and presence of the arcA gene of the arginine catabolic mobile element (ACME).
From 1999 to 2007, we detected a 250-fold increase in cultures of abscesses yielding methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and a 5-fold increase in abscess cultures yielding MSSA. MSSA isolates from abscesses and wounds were more likely to encode PVL than isolates from other sources. In contrast to PVL-negative isolates of MSSA which were genetically diverse, PVL-positive isolates were predominantly MLST 8, Agr type 1. More than half of PVL-positive MSSA isolates were resistant to erythromycin and susceptible to clindamycin with absence of inducible resistance, a pattern uncommon in PVL-negative MSSA but frequent in the USA300 clone of MRSA. In addition, PFGE of PVL-positive MSSA strains revealed the USA300 pattern.
In addition to methicillin-resistant strains, the current epidemic of Staphylococcus aureus infections includes infections caused by methicillin-susceptible strains that are closely related genetically and share phenotypic characteristics other than susceptibility to methicillin. These findings suggest that factors other than methicillin resistance are driving the epidemic.
PMCID: PMC2965061  PMID: 19589082
Staphylococcus aureus; Panton-Valentine leukocidin; methicillin resistance
8.  Adaptive Change Inferred from Genomic Population Analysis of the ST93 Epidemic Clone of Community-Associated Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus 
Genome Biology and Evolution  2014;6(2):366-378.
Community-associated methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (CA-MRSA) has emerged as a major public health problem around the world. In Australia, ST93-IV[2B] is the dominant CA-MRSA clone and displays significantly greater virulence than other S. aureus. Here, we have examined the evolution of ST93 via genomic analysis of 12 MSSA and 44 MRSA ST93 isolates, collected from around Australia over a 17-year period. Comparative analysis revealed a core genome of 2.6 Mb, sharing greater than 99.7% nucleotide identity. The accessory genome was 0.45 Mb and comprised additional mobile DNA elements, harboring resistance to erythromycin, trimethoprim, and tetracycline. Phylogenetic inference revealed a molecular clock and suggested that a single clone of methicillin susceptible, Panton-Valentine leukocidin (PVL) positive, ST93 S. aureus likely spread from North Western Australia in the early 1970s, acquiring methicillin resistance at least twice in the mid 1990s. We also explored associations between genotype and important MRSA phenotypes including oxacillin MIC and production of exotoxins (α-hemolysin [Hla], δ-hemolysin [Hld], PSMα3, and PVL). High-level expression of Hla is a signature feature of ST93 and reduced expression in eight isolates was readily explained by mutations in the agr locus. However, subtle but significant decreases in Hld were also noted over time that coincided with decreasing oxacillin resistance and were independent of agr mutations. The evolution of ST93 S. aureus is thus associated with a reduction in both exotoxin expression and oxacillin MIC, suggesting MRSA ST93 isolates are under pressure for adaptive change.
PMCID: PMC3942038  PMID: 24482534
Staphylococcus aureus; community-acquired MRSA; comparative genomics; alpha-hemolysin
9.  Population Structure of Staphylococcus aureus from Remote African Babongo Pygmies 
Pandemic community-acquired methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus isolates (CA-MRSA) predominantly encode the Panton-Valentine leukocidin (PVL), which can be associated with severe infections. Reports from non-indigenous Sub-Saharan African populations revealed a high prevalence of PVL-positive isolates. The objective of our study was to investigate the S. aureus carriage among a remote indigenous African population and to determine the molecular characteristics of the isolates, particularly those that were PVL-positive.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Nasal S. aureus carriage and risk factors of colonization were systematically assessed in remote Gabonese Babongo Pygmies. Susceptibility to antibiotics, possession of toxin-encoding genes (i.e., PVL, enterotoxins, and exfoliative toxins), S. aureus protein A (spa) types and multi-locus sequence types (MLST) were determined for each isolate. The carriage rate was 33%. No MRSA was detected, 61.8% of the isolates were susceptible to penicillin. Genes encoding PVL (55.9%), enterotoxin B (20.6%), exfoliative toxin D (11.7%) and the epidermal cell differentiation inhibitor B (11.7%) were highly prevalent. Thirteen spa types were detected and were associated with 10 STs predominated by ST15, ST30, ST72, ST80, and ST88.
The high prevalence of PVL-positive isolates among Babongo Pygmies demands our attention as PVL can be associated with necrotinzing infection and may increase the risk of severe infections in remote Pygmy populations. Many S. aureus isolates from Babongo Pygmies and pandemic CA-MRSA-clones have a common genetic background. Surveillance is needed to control the development of resistance to antibiotic drugs and to assess the impact of the high prevalence of PVL in indigenous populations.
Author Summary
Staphylococcus aureus is a bacterium that colonizes humans worldwide. The anterior nares are its main ecological niche. Carriers of S. aureus are at a higher risk of developing invasive infections. Few reports indicated a different clonal structure and profile of virulence factors in S. aureus isolates from Sub-Saharan Africa. As there are no data about isolates from remote indigenous African populations, we conducted a cross-sectional survey of S. aureus nasal carriage in Gabonese Babongo Pygmies. The isolates were characterized regarding their susceptibility to antibiotic agents, possession of virulence factors and clonal lineage. While similar carriage rates were found in populations of industrialized countries, isolates that encode the genes for the Panton-Valentine leukocidin (PVL) were clearly more prevalent than in European countries. Of interest, many methicillin-susceptible S. aureus isolates from Babongo Pygmies showed the same genetic background as pandemic methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA) clones. We advocate a surveillance of S. aureus in neglected African populations to control the development of resistance to antibiotic drugs with particular respect to MRSA and to assess the impact of the high prevalence of PVL-positive isolates.
PMCID: PMC3091839  PMID: 21572985
10.  Population Structure of Staphylococcus aureus Strains Isolated from Intensive Care Unit Patients in The Netherlands over an 11-Year Period (1996 to 2006) ▿  
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2009;47(12):4090-4095.
The genetic background and the presence of several virulence factors of Staphylococcus aureus isolates from intensive care unit (ICU) patients from 14 hospitals in The Netherlands isolated from 1996 until 2006 were investigated. In total, 936 methicillin-susceptible S. aureus (MSSA) and 7 methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA) isolates were collected. The genetic background was determined by spa typing and multilocus sequence typing (MLST). The virulence determinants Panton-Valentine leukocidin (PVL), toxic shock syndrome toxin 1 (TSST-1), and collagen adhesion (CNA) were detected with real-time PCR assays. On the MRSA isolates, mobile resistance staphylococcal cassette chromosome mec (SCCmec) typing was performed. Among the MSSA isolates, 313 different spa types were observed. A genetic background common to MRSA clones, e.g., MLST clonal complex 1 (CC1), CC5, CC8, CC22, CC30, and CC45, was observed among 62% of the isolates. The remaining isolates were associated with MSSA-related MLST CCs. MLST CC1, CC25, and CC30 were continuously present, and other MLST CCs fluctuated over time. Two percent of the MSSA isolates harbored PVL, 21% had TSST-1, and 46% were positive for CNA. There were no changes in the prevalence of the virulence factors over time. Four MRSA isolates were typed as ST8-MRSA-IV (where ST is the MLST sequence type and IV is the SCCmec type), two were ST5-MRSA-II, and one was ST228-MRSA-I. All MRSA isolates were PVL, CNA, and TSST-1 negative except for the two ST5-MRSA-II isolates, which were TSST-1 positive. No changes in the S. aureus genetic background and the prevalence of the virulence factors PVL, CNA, and TSST-1 were observed in ICU patients in The Netherlands over time.
PMCID: PMC2786662  PMID: 19812275
11.  Epidemiological, clinical, outcome and antibiotic susceptibility differences between PVL positive and PVL negative Staphylococcus aureus infections in Western Australia: a case control study 
Panton Valentine Leukocidin (PVL) has been associated with invasive Staphylococcus aureus soft tissue and pneumonic infections.
From September 2007 to January 2009 at Royal Perth Hospital we tested for the PVL gene in S. aureus isolates from an invasive site, a suspected PVL-related soft tissue infection and all MRSA isolates. We could access medical records for 141 PVL positive (PVL + ve) infections and compared these to a control group comprised of 148 PVL negative (PVL-ve) infections.
In the PVL + ve group 62 isolates were MRSA (48 were ST93-MRSA-IV) and 79 isolates were methicillin-sensitive S. aureus, and in the PVL-ve group 56 were MRSA (50 were WA-MRSA strains) and 92 were methicillin-sensitive S. aureus. We found the presence of PVL to be significantly associated with younger age, aboriginality, intravenous drug use, community acquisition, shorter length of hospital stay and lower mortality at 1 year. Overall PVL + ve infections more often required surgical intervention (73.0% versus 44.6%, p < 0.001) and were less often polymicrobial (8.5% versus 41.2%, p < 0.001). PVL + ve isolates were more often susceptible to clindamycin (87.9% versus 73.0%, p = 0.002).
This study demonstrates that PVL + ve infections are associated with a distinct clinical picture, predominantly pyogenic skin and soft tissue infections often requiring surgery, disproportionately affecting patients who are younger, indigenous or with fewer health-care risk factors.
PMCID: PMC4297412  PMID: 25572896
Staphylococcus aureus; MRSA; Panton Valentine Leucocidin; PVL
12.  Molecular characterization of Staphylococcus aureus isolates causing skin and soft tissue infections (SSTIs) 
BMC Infectious Diseases  2010;10:133.
Staphylococcus aureus, particularly methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA), is an important cause of pyogenic skin and soft tissue infections (SSTIs). The aim of present study is to investigate the molecular characteristic of Staphylococcus aureus isolates isolated from the pus samples from the patients with purulent skin and soft tissue infections in Wenzhou, China.
Between December 2002 and June 2008, a total of 111 nonduplicate S. aureus isolates were collected from the pus samples of the patients with SSTIs in a teaching hospital in Wenzhou, China. All the tested isolates were confirmed as S. aureus using a Staph SPA agglutination kit, Gram's stain and a Vitek-60 microbiology analyzer. The homology among the tested isolates was determined by pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE). Multilocus sequence typing (MLST) was used to determine the sequence types (STs) of the selected isolates. The genotypes of SCCmec were determined by a multiplex PCR in the MRSA isolates. Panton-Valentine leukocidin (PVL) genes and mecA were also determined by another multiplex PCR.
Among the 111 S. aureus isolates, 48 and 63 isolates were community-acquired and hospital-acquired respectively. Sixty isolates were confirmed as MRSA harboring mecA detected by PCR. A total of 32 PFGE clonal types were obtained by PFGE, with 10 predominant patterns (types A to J). Twenty-five different STs including ST398 and three novel STs were found among 51 selected isolates. The main STs were ST239, ST1018, ST59, ST7 and ST88. Of 60 MRSA isolates, SCCmec II, III, IV and SCCmec V were found in three, 50, three and two isolates, respectively. The positive rates of PVL genes in overall isolates, HA-isolates, CA-isolates, MRSA isolates and MSSA isolates were 23.4% (26/111), 20.6% (13/63), 27.1% (13/48), 21.7% (13/60) and 25.5% (13/51), respectively. Eight (33.3%, 8/24) of 24 CA-MRSA isolates and 5 (13.9%, 5/36) of 36 HA-MRSA isolates were positive for PVL genes. ST239-MRSA-SCCmecIII and ST1018-MRSA-SCCmecIII clones were found to be main clones and spread between community and hospital.
S. aureus isolates causing SSTIs showed considerable molecular heterogeneity and harbored high prevalence of PVL genes. Clonal spread was responsible for the dissemination of the isolates of S. aureus associated with SSTIs.
PMCID: PMC2889999  PMID: 20500885
13.  Comparative Whole-Genome Mapping To Determine Staphylococcus aureus Genome Size, Virulence Motifs, and Clonality 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2012;50(11):3526-3533.
Despite being a clonal pathogen, Staphylococcus aureus continues to acquire virulence and antibiotic-resistant genes located on mobile genetic elements such as genomic islands, prophages, pathogenicity islands, and the staphylococcal chromosomal cassette mec (SCCmec) by horizontal gene transfer from other staphylococci. The potential virulence of a S. aureus strain is often determined by comparing its pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) or multilocus sequence typing profiles to that of known epidemic or virulent clones and by PCR of the toxin genes. Whole-genome mapping (formerly optical mapping), which is a high-resolution ordered restriction mapping of a bacterial genome, is a relatively new genomic tool that allows comparative analysis across entire bacterial genomes to identify regions of genomic similarities and dissimilarities, including small and large insertions and deletions. We explored whether whole-genome maps (WGMs) of methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA) could be used to predict the presence of methicillin resistance, SCCmec type, and Panton-Valentine leukocidin (PVL)-producing genes on an S. aureus genome. We determined the WGMs of 47 diverse clinical isolates of S. aureus, including well-characterized reference MRSA strains, and annotated the signature restriction pattern in SCCmec types, arginine catabolic mobile element (ACME), and PVL-carrying prophage, PhiSa2 or PhiSa2-like regions on the genome. WGMs of these isolates accurately characterized them as MRSA or methicillin-sensitive S. aureus based on the presence or absence of the SCCmec motif, ACME and the unique signature pattern for the prophage insertion that harbored the PVL genes. Susceptibility to methicillin resistance and the presence of mecA, SCCmec types, and PVL genes were confirmed by PCR. A WGM clustering approach was further able to discriminate isolates within the same PFGE clonal group. These results showed that WGMs could be used not only to genotype S. aureus but also to identify genetic motifs in MRSA that may predict virulence.
PMCID: PMC3486210  PMID: 22915603
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.  Analysis of Pathogen and Host Factors Related to Clinical Outcomes in Patients with Hospital-Acquired Pneumonia Due to Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2012;50(5):1640-1644.
Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is a major cause of nosocomial pneumonia. To characterize pathogen-derived and host-related factors in intensive care unit (ICU) patients with MRSA pneumonia, we evaluated the Improving Medicine through Pathway Assessment of Critical Therapy in Hospital-Acquired Pneumonia (IMPACT-HAP) database. We performed multivariate regression analyses of 28-day mortality and clinical response using univariate analysis variables at a P level of <0.25. In isolates from 251 patients, the most common molecular characteristics were USA100 (55.0%) and USA300 (23.9%), SCCmec types II (64.1%) and IV (33.1%), and agr I (36.7%) and II (61.8%). Panton-Valentine leukocidin (PVL) was present in 21.9%, and vancomycin heteroresistance was present in 15.9%. Mortality occurred in 37.1% of patients; factors in the univariate analysis were age, APACHE II score, AIDS, cardiac disease, vascular disease, diabetes, SCCmec type II, PVL negativity, and higher vancomycin MIC (all P values were <0.05). In multivariate analysis, independent predictors were APACHE II score (odds ratio [OR], 1.090; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.041 to 1.141; P < 0.001) and age (OR, 1.024; 95% CI, 1.003 to 1.046; P = 0.02). Clinical failure occurred in 36.8% of 201 evaluable patients; the only independent predictor was APACHE II score (OR, 1.082; 95% CI, 1.031 to 1.136; P = 0.002). In summary, APACHE II score (mortality, clinical failure) and age (mortality) were the only independent predictors, which is consistent with severity of illness in ICU patients with MRSA pneumonia. Interestingly, our univariate findings suggest that both pathogen and host factors influence outcomes. As the epidemiology of MRSA pneumonia continues to evolve, both pathogen- and host-related factors should be considered when describing epidemiological trends and outcomes of therapeutic interventions.
PMCID: PMC3347104  PMID: 22337980
16.  Epidemiology and Outcomes of Community-Associated Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus Infection▿  
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2007;45(6):1705-1711.
Over a 2-year period (2003 to 2005) patients with community-associated methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (CA-MRSA) and community-acquired methicillin-susceptible Staphylococcus aureus (CA-MSSA) infections were prospectively identified. Patients infected with CA-MRSA (n = 102 patients) and CA-MSSA (n = 102 patients) had median ages of 46 and 53 years, respectively; the most common sites of infection in the two groups were skin/soft tissue (80 and 93%, respectively), respiratory tract (13 and 6%, respectively), and blood (4 and 1%, respectively). Fourteen percent of patients with CA-MRSA infections and 3% of patients with CA-MSSA infections had household contacts with similar infections (P < 0.01). Among the CA-MRSA isolates, the pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) groups detected were USA300 (49%) and USA100 (13%), with 27 PFGE groups overall; 71% of the isolates were staphylococcal chromosome cassette mec (SCCmec) type IV, 29% were SCCmec type II, and 54% had the Panton-Valentine leucocidin (PVL) gene. Among the CA-MSSA isolates there were 33 PFGE groups, with isolates of the USA200 group comprising 11%, isolates of the USA600 group comprising 11%, isolates of the USA100 group comprising 10%, and isolates of the PVL type comprising 10%. Forty-six and 18% of the patients infected with CA-MRSA and CA-MSSA, respectively, were hospitalized (P < 0.001). Fifty percent of the patients received antibiotic therapy alone, 5% received surgery alone, 30% received antibiotics and surgery, 3% received other therapy, and 12% received no treatment. The median durations of antibiotic therapy were 12 and 10 days in the CA-MRSA- and CA-MSSA-infected patients, respectively; 48 and 56% of the patients in the two groups received adequate antimicrobial therapy, respectively (P < 0.001). The clinical success rates of the initial therapy in the two groups were 61 and 84%, respectively (P < 0.001); recurrences were more common in the CA-MRSA group (recurrences were detected in 18 and 6% of the patients in the two groups, respectively [P < 0.001]). CA-MRSA was an independent predictor of clinical failure in multivariate analysis (odds ratio, 3.4; 95% confidence interval, 1.7 to 6.9). In the community setting, the molecular characteristics of the S. aureus strains were heterogeneous. CA-MRSA infections were associated with a more adverse impact on outcome than CA-MSSA infections.
PMCID: PMC1933099  PMID: 17392441
17.  Acute haematogenous community-acquired methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus osteomyelitis in an adult: Case report and review of literature 
BMC Infectious Diseases  2012;12:270.
Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) has of late emerged as a cause of community-acquired infections among immunocompetent adults without risk factors. Skin and soft tissue infections represent the majority of community-acquired methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (CA-MRSA) clinical presentations, whilst invasive and life-threatening illness like necrotizing pneumonia, necrotizing fasciitis, pyomyositis, osteomyelitis and sepsis syndrome are less common. Although more widely described in the pediatric age group, the occurrence of CA-MRSA osteomyelitis in adults is an uncommonly reported entity.
Case presentation
We describe an invasive CA-MRSA infection in a 28 year-old previously healthy male, manifesting with bacteraemia, osteomyelitis of femur, pyomyositis and septic arthritis of the knee. Initially a preliminary diagnosis of osteosarcoma was suggested by imaging studies and patient underwent a bone biopsy. MRSA was subsequently isolated from blood cultures taken on day of admission, bone, tissue and pus cultures. Incision and drainage of abscess was performed and patient was treated with vancomycin, with fusidic acid added later. It took 6 months for the inflammatory markers to normalize, warranting 6-months of anti-MRSA therapy. Patient was a fervent deer hunter and we speculate that he acquired this infection from extensive direct contact with deer.
Molecular characterization of this isolate showed that it belonged to multilocus sequence type (MLST) ST30 and exhibited the staphylococcal chromosome cassette mec (SCCmec) type IV, staphylococcus protein A (spa) type t019, accessory gene regulator (agr) type III and dru type dt10m. This strain harbored Panton-Valentine leukocidin (pvl) genes together with 3 other virulent genes; sei (enterotoxin), hlg (hemolysin) and fnbA (fibronectin binding protein).
This case study alerts physicians that beyond the most commonly encountered skin and soft tissue infections, pvl positive CA-MRSA can lead to invasive life-threatening disease especially in an immunocompetent adult. Heightened alertness is needed for osteomyelitis of long bones in adults, as it is not uncommon for this disease to mimic primary bone malignancy. Cure is achievable with early appropriate antibiotics guided by inflammatory markers.
PMCID: PMC3529109  PMID: 23098162
Community-acquired MRSA; Osteomyelitis; Adult; Pyomyositis; Septic arthritis; Bacteraemia; PVL; Inflammatory markers; Osteosarcoma mimicker
18.  Anti-microbial activities of pomegranate rind extracts: enhancement by cupric sulphate against clinical isolates of S. aureus, MRSA and PVL positive CA-MSSA 
Recently, natural products have been evaluated as sources of antimicrobial agents with efficacies against a variety of micro-organisms.
This report describes the antimicrobial activities of pomegranate rind extract (PRE) singularly and in combination with cupric sulphate against methicillin-sensitive and -resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MSSA, MRSA respectively), and Panton-Valentine Leukocidin positive community acquired MSSA (PVL positive CA-MSSA).
PRE alone showed limited efficacy against MRSA and MSSA strains. Exposure to copper (II) ions alone for 2 hours resulted in moderate activity of between 102 to 103 log10 cfu mL-1 reduction in growth. This was enhanced by the addition of PRE to 104 log10 cfu mL-1 reduction in growth being observed in 80% of the isolates. However, the PVL positive CA-MSSA strains were more sensitive to copper (II) ions which exhibited moderate activities of between 103 log10 cfu mL-1 reduction in growth for 60% of the isolates.
PRE, in combination with Cu(II) ions, was seen to exhibit moderate antimicrobial effects against clinical isolates of MSSA, MRSA and PVL positive CA-MSSA isolates. The results of this study indicate that further investigation into the active ingredients of natural products, their mode of action and potential synergism with other antimicrobial agents is warranted. This is the first report of the efficacy of pomegranate against clinical PVL positive CA-MSSA isolates.
PMCID: PMC2724405  PMID: 19635137
19.  High Prevalence of Panton-Valentine Leukocidin (PVL) Genes in Nosocomial-Acquired Staphylococcus aureus Isolated from Tertiary Care Hospitals in Nepal 
BioMed Research International  2014;2014:790350.
Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) carrying the important virulence determinant, Panton-Valentine leukocidin (PVL), is an emerging infectious pathogen associated with skin and soft tissue infections as well as life-threatening invasive diseases. In carrying out the first PVL prevalence study in Nepal, we screened 73 nosocomial isolates of S. aureus from 2 tertiary care Nepali hospitals and obtained an overall PVL-positivity rate of 35.6% among the hospital isolates: 26.1% of MRSA and 51.9% of methicillin sensitive S. aureus (MSSA) isolates were found to be positive for the PVL genes. PVL prevalence was not associated with a specific (i) infection site, (ii) age group, or (iii) hospital of origin. It was found to be positively associated with heterogeneous MRSA (73.3%) compared to homogeneous MRSA (3.2%) and MSSA (51.9%); negatively associated with multiresistant MRSA (22%) compared to nonmultiresistant MRSA (60%) and MSSA (51.9%); and positively associated with macrolide-streptogramin B resistance (93.8%) compared to macrolide-lincosamide-streptogramin B resistance (0%) and no-resistance (45.8%) types. Macrolide-streptogramin B resistance was confirmed by the presence of msr(A) gene. Restriction pattern analyses provided evidence to support the circulation of a limited number of clones of PVL-positive MRSA, arguing for the adaptability of these isolates to a hospital setting.
PMCID: PMC4087282  PMID: 25045702
20.  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
21.  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
22.  Molecular Typing of MRSA and of Clinical Staphylococcus aureus Isolates from Iaşi, Romania 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(5):e97833.
Romania is one of the countries with the highest prevalence of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) in the world. To obtain data on affiliation of MRSA to strains and clonal complexes and on the population of methicillin susceptible S. aureus (MSSA), clinical isolates from bloodstream infections, skin and soft tissue infections as well as from screening swabs were collected at hospitals in Ia?i, a city in the North-Eastern part of Romania. Isolates were characterised by microarray hybridisation. Nearly half of all isolates (47%), and about one third (34%) of bloodstream isolates were MRSA. The prevalence of the Panton-Valentine leukocidin (PVL) was also high (31% among MRSA, 14% among MSSA). The most common MRSA strain was a PVL-negative CC1-MRSA-IV that might have emerged locally, as a related MSSA was also common. PVL-positive CC8-MRSA-IV (“USA300”) and PVL-negative ST239-like MRSA-III were also frequently found while other MRSA strains were only sporadically detected. Among MSSA, PVL-positive CC121 as well as PVL-negative CC1, CC22 and CC45 predominated. Although this study provides only a snapshot of S. aureus/MRSA epidemiology in Romania, it confirms the high burden of MRSA and PVL on Romanian healthcare settings.
PMCID: PMC4028265  PMID: 24846009
23.  Characterization and Comparison of 2 Distinct Epidemic Community-Associated Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus Clones of ST59 Lineage 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(9):e63210.
Sequence type (ST) 59 is an epidemic lineage of community-associated (CA) methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) isolates. Taiwanese CA-MRSA isolates belong to ST59 and can be grouped into 2 distinct clones, a virulent Taiwan clone and a commensal Asian-Pacific clone. The Taiwan clone carries the Panton–Valentine leukocidin (PVL) genes and the staphylococcal chromosomal cassette mec (SCCmec) VT, and is frequently isolated from patients with severe disease. The Asian-Pacific clone is PVL-negative, carries SCCmec IV, and a frequent colonizer of healthy children. Isolates of both clones were characterized by their ability to adhere to respiratory A549 cells, cytotoxicity to human neutrophils, and nasal colonization of a murine and murine sepsis models. Genome variation was determined by polymerase chain reaction of selected virulence factors and by multi-strain whole genome microarray. Additionally, the expression of selected factors was compared between the 2 clones. The Taiwan clone showed a much higher cytotoxicity to the human neutrophils and caused more severe septic infections with a high mortality rate in the murine model. The clones were indistinguishable in their adhesion to A549 cells and persistence of murine nasal colonization. The microarray data revealed that the Taiwan clone had lost the ø3-prophage that integrates into the β-hemolysin gene and includes staphylokinase- and enterotoxin P-encoding genes, but had retained the genes for human immune evasion, scn and chps. Production of the virulence factors did not differ significantly in the 2 clonal groups, although more α-toxin was expressed in Taiwan clone isolates from pneumonia patients. In conclusion, the Taiwan CA-MRSA clone was distinguished by enhanced virulence in both humans and an animal infection model. The evolutionary acquisition of PVL, the higher expression of α-toxin, and possibly the loss of a large portion of the β-hemolysin-converting prophage likely contribute to its higher pathogenic potential than the Asian-Pacific clone.
PMCID: PMC3764004  PMID: 24039691
24.  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
25.  Population Structure of Staphylococcus aureus from Trinidad & Tobago 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(2):e89120.
It has been shown previously that high rates of methicillin- and mupirocin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus exist in the Caribbean islands of Trinidad and Tobago, as well as a high prevalence of Panton-Valentine leukocidin-positive S. aureus. Beyond these studies, limited typing data have been published. In order to obtain insight into the population structure not only of MRSA but also of methicillin-susceptible S. aureus, 294 clinical isolates collected in 2012/2013 were typed by microarray hybridisation. A total of 15.31% of the tested isolates were MRSA and 50.00% were PVL-positive. The most common MSSA strains were PVL-positive CC8-MSSA (20.41% of all isolates tested), PVL-positive CC152-MSSA (9.52%) and PVL-positive CC30-MSSA (8.84%) while the most common MRSA were ST239-MRSA-III&SCCmer (9.18%) and ST8-MRSA-IV, “USA300” (5.78%). 2.38% of characterised isolates belonged to distinct strains likely to be related to “Staphylococcus argenteus” lineages. The population structure of S. aureus isolates suggests an importation of strains from Africa, endemicity of PVL-positive MSSA (mainly CC8) and of ST239-MRSA-III, and a recent emergence of the PVL-positive CC8-MRSA-IV strain “USA300”.
PMCID: PMC3929661  PMID: 24586536

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