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1.  Natural and ion-exchanged illite clays reduce bacterial burden and inflammation in cutaneous meticillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus infections in mice 
Journal of Medical Microbiology  2016;65(Pt 1):19-27.
Discoveries associated with antibacterial activity of hydrated clays necessitate assessments of in vivo efficacy, practical use and safety. Surface properties of clays can lead to variations in the composition and abundance of bound compounds or ions, thus affecting antibacterial activity. Since exchangeable metal ions released from the clay surface are responsible for in vitro antibacterial activity, we evaluated the in vivo antibacterial efficacy of four natural clays (one illite clay, two montmorillonite clays and one kaolinite clay) and three ion-exchanged, antibacterial clays against superficial, cutaneous meticillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infections in mice. Superficial, cutaneous wounds on the back of SKH1-Elite mice were generated and subsequently infected with MRSA. Following twice daily applications of a hydrated clay poultice to infected wounds for 7 days, we observed significant differences in the in vivo antibacterial efficacy between different types of clays. The natural and ion-exchanged illite clays performed best, as measured by bacterial load, inflammatory response and gross wound morphology with significant decreases in bacterial viability and dermatitis. Topical application of kaolinite clay was the least effective, resulting in the lowest decrease in bacterial load and exhibiting severe dermatitis. These data suggest that specific types of clays may offer a complementary and integrative strategy for topically treating MRSA and other cutaneous infections. However, since natural clays exhibit in vitro antibacterial variability and vary vastly in surface chemistries, adsorptive/absorptive characteristics and structural composition, the properties and characteristics of illite clays could aid in the development of standardized and customized aluminosilicates for topical infections.
PMCID: PMC4756756  PMID: 26508716
2.  Current concepts in the pathogenesis and treatment of chronic suppurative otitis media 
Journal of Medical Microbiology  2015;64(Pt 10):1103-1116.
Otitis media (OM) is an inflammation of the middle ear associated with infection. Despite appropriate therapy, acute OM (AOM) can progress to chronic suppurative OM (CSOM) associated with ear drum perforation and purulent discharge. The effusion prevents the middle ear ossicles from properly relaying sound vibrations from the ear drum to the oval window of the inner ear, causing conductive hearing loss. In addition, the inflammatory mediators generated during CSOM can penetrate into the inner ear through the round window. This can cause the loss of hair cells in the cochlea, leading to sensorineural hearing loss. Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Staphylococcus aureus are the most predominant pathogens that cause CSOM. Although the pathogenesis of AOM is well studied, very limited research is available in relation to CSOM. With the emergence of antibiotic resistance as well as the ototoxicity of antibiotics and the potential risks of surgery, there is an urgent need to develop effective therapeutic strategies against CSOM. This warrants understanding the role of host immunity in CSOM and how the bacteria evade these potent immune responses. Understanding the molecular mechanisms leading to CSOM will help in designing novel treatment modalities against the disease and hence preventing the hearing loss.
PMCID: PMC4835974  PMID: 26248613
3.  Isolation and characterization of a novel Helicobacter species, Helicobacter jaachi sp. nov., from common marmosets (Callithrix jaachus) 
Journal of Medical Microbiology  2015;64(Pt 9):1063-1073.
Purpose-bred common marmosets from domestic sources housed in a US research facility, and used in multiple drug discovery programmes, were noted to have a high incidence of spontaneous inflammatory bowel disease and sporadic cholecystitis and cholangiohepatitis. Inflammatory infiltrates increased in incidence and severity with age. Because Helicobacter spp. have been linked to gastrointestinal diseases, samples from the gastrointestinal tracts of 39 marmosets were screened for Helicobacter spp. by culture and PCR. Helicobacter spp. were frequently detected in marmosets; 28.2 % of the marmosets were positive for a proposed novel species, Helicobacter jaachi sp. nov., by culture, and 48.7 % were positive by Helicobacter genus-specific PCR. Seventeen strains of Helicobacter sp. from 11 marmosets were cultured from various gastrointestinal sites. Older animals (age 6–11 years) had a higher helicobacter prevalence rate (57.1 %) compared with younger animals (age 3–5 years), which had a 27.2 % prevalence rate. Cells of H. jaachi sp. nov. were catalase, urease and oxidase positive and had fusiform morphology, with periplasmic fibres and multiple bipolar, sheathed flagella. All isolates had similar 16S and 23S rRNA sequences, which clustered as representatives of a novel Helicobacter species closely related to ‘Helicobacter sanguini’ (97 %), a species isolated from cotton-top tamarins and ‘Helicobacter callitrichis’ (96 %) isolated previously from the faeces of common marmosets. The whole genome sequence of one of the liver isolates, H. jaachi sp. nov. MIT 09-6949T, had a 1.9 Mb genome length with a 41 mol% DNA G+C content. The type strain of Helicobacter jaachi sp. nov., MIT 09-6949T, has been deposited in the BCCM/LMG Bacteria Collection as LMG 28613T. These findings add to the increasing number of animal species with gastrointestinal disease in which novel enterohepatic Helicobacter spp. have been isolated.
PMCID: PMC4681044  PMID: 26297446
4.  Dose escalation studies with caspofungin against Candida glabrata 
Journal of Medical Microbiology  2015;64(Pt 9):998-1007.
Echinocandins are recommended as first-line agents against invasive fungal infections caused by Candida glabrata, which still carry a high mortality rate. Dose escalation of echinocandins has been suggested to improve the clinical outcome against C. glabrata. To address this possibility, we performed in vitro and in vivo experiments with caspofungin against four WT C. glabrata clinical isolates, a drug-susceptible ATCC 90030 reference strain and two echinocandin-resistant strains with known FKS mutations. MIC values for the clinical isolates in RPMI 1640 were ≤ 0.03 mg l− 1 but increased to 0.125–0.25 mg l− 1 in RPMI 1640+50 % serum. In RPMI 1640+50 % serum, the replication of C. glabrata was weaker than in RPMI 1640.Caspofungin in RPMI 1640 at 1 and 4 mg l− 1 showed a fungicidal effect within 7 h against three of the four clinical isolates but was only fungistatic at 16 and 32 mg l− 1 (paradoxically decreased killing activity). In RPMI 1640+50 % serum, caspofungin at ≥ 1 mg l− 1 was rapidly fungicidal (within 3.31 h) against three of the four isolates. In a profoundly neutropenic murine model, all caspofungin doses (1, 2, 3, 5 and 20 mg kg− 1 daily) decreased the fungal tissue burdens significantly (P < 0.05–0.001) without statistical differences between doses, but the mean fungal tissue burdens never fell below 105 cells (g tissue)− 1.The echinocandin-resistant strains were highly virulent in animal models and all doses were ineffective. These results confirm the clinical experience that caspofungin dose escalation does not improve efficacy.
PMCID: PMC4681045  PMID: 26296340
5.  Identification of culturable vaginal Lactobacillus species among reproductive age women in Mysore, India 
Journal of Medical Microbiology  2015;64(Pt 6):636-641.
A healthy vaginal environment is predominated by certain Lactobacillus species, which lead to the prevention of infections of the reproductive tract. This study examined the characteristics of cultivable Lactobacillus species in both healthy women and women with bacterial vaginosis (BV). Between November 2011 and September 2013, 139 women attending a women's clinic in Mysore, India, were evaluated for BV in a cross-sectional study. BV was diagnosed using Amsel's criteria: homogeneous vaginal discharge, vaginal pH >4.5, production of amines, and presence of “clue” cells. Those with three or more of the characteristics were considered to have BV. Vaginal swabs were then cultured in Rogosa agar and de Man-Rogosa-Sharpe broth. Gram-positive lactobacilli generating 600–800 bp amplicons by16 sRNA were further characterized by sequencing. Cultivable vaginal samples were obtained from 132 women (94.9 %). According to the Amsel criteria, 83 women (62.1 %) were healthy, and 49 (37.1 %) had BV. Eleven different Lactobacillus species were isolated from 47 women. The common lactobacilli species found in this sample included L. crispatus (39.6 %), L. gasseri (45.8 %), and L. jensenii (14.6 %). Lactobacilli were isolated from 39 healthy women and eight with BV. L. gasseri was cultured from 18.8 % of healthy women and 6.1 % with BV. The presence of L. reuteri was significantly associated with normal vaginal microbiota (P-value = 0.026). These results further our understanding of vaginal lactobacilli colonization and richness in this particular population. Our findings showed that lactobacilli species present in the vaginas of healthy women in India do not differ from those reported from other countries.
PMCID: PMC4835975  PMID: 25873579
6.  Pathological findings and diagnostic implications of a rhesus macaque (Macacca mulatta) model of aerosol exposure to Burkholderia mallei (glanders) 
Journal of Medical Microbiology  2015;64(Pt 6):646-653.
Burkholderia mallei is a Gram-negative bacillus that causes a pneumonic disease known as glanders in equids and humans, and a lymphatic infection known as farcy, primarily in equids. With the potential to infect humans by the respiratory route, aerosol exposure can result in severe, occasionally fatal, pneumonia. Today, glanders infections in humans are rare, likely due to less frequent contact with infected equids than in the past. Acutely ill humans often have non-specific clinical signs and in order to diagnose cases, especially in scenarios of multiple cases in an unexpected setting, rapid diagnostics for B. mallei may be critical. The pathogenesis of acute glanders in the rhesus macaque (Macaca mulatta) was studied as an initial effort to improve diagnostic methods. In the study described here, the diagnostic techniques of PCR, culture and histopathology were compared. The results indicated that PCR may provide rapid, non-invasive diagnosis of glanders in some cases. As expected, PCR results were positive in lung tissue in 11/12 acutely infected rhesus macaques, but more importantly in terms of diagnostic algorithm development, PCR results were frequently positive in non-invasive samples such as broncho-alveolar lavage or nasal swabs (7/12) and occasionally in blood (3/12). However, conventional bacterial culture failed to recover bacteria in many of these samples. The study showed that the clinical presentation of aerosol-exposed rhesus macaques is similar to descriptions of human glanders and that PCR has potential for rapid diagnosis of outbreaks, if not individual cases.
PMCID: PMC4835976  PMID: 25850696
7.  A multilocus variable number tandem repeat analysis assay provides high discrimination for genotyping Leptospira santarosai strains 
Journal of Medical Microbiology  2015;64(Pt 5):507-512.
Considering the prevalence of Leptospira santarosai infections in the Americas and the scarce information about the species, we aimed to apply a multilocus variable number tandem repeat (VNTR) analysis (MLVA) for the molecular typing of L. santarosai isolates from various sources. Amplification of three VNTR loci selected from L. santarosai genome sequences resulted in a wide range of sizes for the amplified products amongst the 21 L. santarosai strains analysed. This suggested a variation in tandem repeat copy numbers in the VNTR loci. secY sequencing also showed a high nucleotide diversity, confirming the MLVA data. In conclusion, this novel MLVA provided a high level of discrimination between L. santarosai isolates, and this new typing tool could be used to investigate leptospirosis in regions where L. santarosai predominates.
PMCID: PMC4857445  PMID: 25721051
8.  New potential role of serum apolipoprotein E mediated by its binding to clumping factor A during Staphylococcus aureus invasive infections to humans 
Journal of Medical Microbiology  2015;64(Pt 4):335-343.
Staphylococcus aureus is a crucial human pathogen expressing various immune-evasion proteins that interact with the host-cell molecules. Clumping factor A (ClfA) is a microbial surface protein that promotes S. aureus binding to fibrinogen, and is associated with septic arthritis and infective endocarditis. In order to identify the major human serum proteins that bind the ClfA, we utilized recombinant ClfA region A in a plate-based assay. SDS-PAGE analysis of the bound proteins yielded five prominent bands, which were analysed by MS yielding apolipoprotein E (ApoE) as the predominant protein. ClfA-sufficient S. aureus bound purified ApoE by more than one log greater than an isogenic ClfA-deficient mutant. An immunodot-blot assay yielded a linearity model for ClfA binding to human ApoE with a stoichiometric-binding ratio of 1.702 at maximal Pearson's correlation coefficient (0.927). These data suggest that ApoE could be a major and novel binding target for the S. aureus virulence factor ClfA. Thus, ClfA recruitment of serum ApoE to the S. aureus surface may sequester ApoE and blunt its host defence function against S. aureus-invasive infections to humans. In this context, compounds that can block or suppress ClfA binding to ApoE might be utilized as prophylactic or therapeutic agents.
PMCID: PMC4857444  PMID: 25878259
10.  Pseudomonas aeruginosa exotoxin T induces potent cytotoxicity against a variety of murine and human cancer cell lines 
Journal of Medical Microbiology  2015;64(Pt 2):164-173.
In patients with malignancy, the major barrier to achieving complete response is emergence of resistance to current chemotherapeutic agents. One of the major mechanisms by which tumour cells become resistant to therapies is by altering cellular drug targets through mutations and/or deletions. Resistance by this mechanism is achieved more easily if the drug has limited cellular targets and/or processes. We hypothesized that as Pseudomonas aeruginosa exotoxin T (ExoT) targets six proteins that are required for cancer cell survival and proliferation, it is highly unlikely for cancer cells to develop resistance to this toxin. We assessed ExoT’s cytotoxicity against multiple invasive and highly resistant tumour cell lines in order to evaluate its potential as a chemotherapeutic agent. Our data demonstrated that ExoT induced potent cytotoxicity in all tumour cell lines that we examined. Collectively, our data highlighted the potential of ExoT as a possible chemotherapeutic candidate for the treatment of cancer.
PMCID: PMC4811650  PMID: 25627204
11.  Non-inferiority of pulsed xenon UV light versus bleach for reducing environmental Clostridium difficile contamination on high-touch surfaces in Clostridium difficile infection isolation rooms 
Journal of Medical Microbiology  2015;64(Pt 2):191-194.
The standard for Clostridium difficile surface decontamination is bleach solution at a concentration of 10 % of sodium hypochlorite. Pulsed xenon UV light (PX-UV) is a means of quickly producing germicidal UV that has been shown to be effective in reducing environmental contamination by C. difficile spores. The purpose of this study was to investigate whether PX-UV was equivalent to bleach for decontamination of surfaces in C. difficile infection isolation rooms. High-touch surfaces in rooms previously occupied by C. difficile infected patients were sampled after discharge but before and after cleaning using either bleach or non-bleach cleaning followed by 15 min of PX-UV treatment. A total of 298 samples were collected by using a moistened wipe specifically designed for the removal of spores. Prior to disinfection, the mean contamination level was 2.39 c.f.u. for bleach rooms and 22.97 for UV rooms. After disinfection, the mean level of contamination for bleach was 0.71 c.f.u. (P = 0.1380), and 1.19 c.f.u. (P = 0.0017) for PX-UV disinfected rooms. The difference in final contamination levels between the two cleaning protocols was not significantly different (P = 0.9838). PX-UV disinfection appears to be at least equivalent to bleach in the ability to decrease environmental contamination with C. difficile spores. Larger studies are needed to validate this conclusion.
PMCID: PMC4811651  PMID: 25627208
12.  ISEcp1-mediated transposition of blaKPC into the chromosome of a clinical isolate of Acinetobacter baumannii from Puerto Rico 
Journal of Medical Microbiology  2014;63(Pt 12):1644-1648.
Carbapenems are the last-resort antibiotics for the treatment of infections caused by multidrug-resistant Gram-negative bacilli. Klebsiella pneumoniae carbapenemase (KPC) hydrolyses β-lactam antibiotics including the carbapenems. KPCs have been detected in Enterobacteriaceae and Pseudomonas aeruginosa isolates worldwide associated with transposon Tn4401 commonly located in plasmids. Acinetobacter baumannii has become an important multidrug-resistant nosocomial pathogen capable of hydrolysing the carbapenem antibiotics. KPC-producing A. baumannii has so far only been reported in Puerto Rico. During a surveillance study, four KPC-producing A. baumannii with identical pulse type were identified in a single institution. The objectives of this study were to characterize the KPC genetic background and the allelic diversity of one of the isolates. Next-generation sequencing and multilocus sequence typing (MLST) were performed. Molecular characterization of the isolate demonstrated blaKPC in Tn4401b located in the bacterial chromosome within a 26.5 kb DNA fragment, which included a KQ-like element (18.9 kb) very similar to that described previously in a K. pneumoniae plasmid and a 7.6 kb DNA fragment with 98 % homology to a putative plasmid from Yersinia pestis strain PY-95. Our data suggested that the 26.5 kb DNA fragment harbouring blaKPC was integrated in the chromosome by a transposition event mediated by the transposase of ISEcp1 found in the KQ-like element. MLST showed a novel sequence type, ST250. To our knowledge, this is the first report of the identification of the genetic background of blaKPC in A. baumannii.
PMCID: PMC4250837  PMID: 25246647
14.  Detection of Mycobacterium tuberculosis in latently infected lungs by immunohistochemistry and confocal microscopy 
Journal of Medical Microbiology  2014;63(Pt 11):1432-1435.
Detection of latent Mycobacterium tuberculosis is a challenge in the diagnosis of asymptomatic, subclinical tuberculosis. We report the development of an immunofluorescence technique to visualize and enumerate M. tuberculosis in latently infected rabbit lungs where no acid-fast–stained organisms were seen and no cultivable bacilli were obtained by the agar-plating method.
PMCID: PMC4209736  PMID: 25161200
15.  Influence of pH on bile sensitivity amongst various strains of Listeria monocytogenes under aerobic and anaerobic conditions 
Journal of Medical Microbiology  2015;64(Pt 11):1287-1296.
Listeria monocytogenes is a dangerous bacterium that causes the food-borne disease listeriosis and accounts for nearly 20 % of food-borne deaths. This organism can survive the body's natural defences within the digestive tract, including acidic conditions and bile. Although the bile response has been analysed, limited information is available concerning the ability of L. monocytogenes to resist bile under anaerobic conditions, especially at acidic pH, which mimics conditions within the duodenum. Additionally, it is not known how the bile response varies between serotypes. In this study, the survival of strains representing six serotypes was analysed under aerobic and anaerobic conditions following exposure to bile. Exposure to bile salts at acidic pH increased toxicity of bile, resulting in a significant reduction in survival for all strains tested. However, following this initial reduction, no significant reduction was observed for an additional 2 h except for strain 10403S (P = 0.002). Anaerobic cultivation increased bile resistance, but a significant increase was only observed in virulent strains when exposed to bile at pH 5.5. Exposure to pH 3.0 prior to bile decreased viability amongst avirulent strains in bile in acidic conditions; oxygen availability did not influence viability. Together, the data suggested that being able to sense and respond to oxygen availability may influence the expression of stress response mechanisms, and this response may correspond to disease outcome. Further research is needed on additional strains to determine how L. monocytogenes senses and responds to oxygen and how this varies between invasive and non-invasive strains.
PMCID: PMC4755106  PMID: 26307079
16.  Co-infection of the Siberian hamster (Phodopus sungorus) with a novel Helicobacter sp. and Campylobacter sp. 
Journal of Medical Microbiology  2015;64(Pt 5):575-581.
We report the isolation of a novel helicobacter isolated from the caecum of the Siberian hamster (Phodopus sungorus). Sequence analysis showed 97 % sequence similarity to Helicobacter ganmani. In addition, we report the co-infection of these Siberian hamsters with a Campylobacter sp. and a second Helicobacter sp. with 99 % sequence similarity to Helicobacter sp. flexispira taxon 8 (Helicobacter bilis), a species isolated previously from patients with bacteraemia. Gross necropsy and histopathology did not reveal any overt pathological lesions of the liver and gastrointestinal tract that could be attributed to the Helicobacter or Campylobacter spp. infections. This is the first helicobacter to be identified in the Siberian hamster and the first report of co-infection of Helicobacter spp. and Campylobacter sp. in asymptomatic Siberian hamsters.
PMCID: PMC4635475  PMID: 25752854
17.  Dormant bacteria within Staphylococcus epidermidis biofilms have low inflammatory properties and maintain tolerance to vancomycin and penicillin after entering planktonic growth 
Journal of Medical Microbiology  2014;63(Pt 10):1274-1283.
Staphylococcus epidermidis is the most commonly isolated aetiological agent of nosocomial infections, mainly due to its ability to establish biofilms on indwelling medical devices. Detachment of bacteria from S. epidermidis biofilms and subsequent growth in the planktonic form is a hallmark of the pathogenesis of these infections leading to dissemination. Here we showed that S. epidermidis cells collected from biofilms cultured in conditions that promote cell viability present marked changes in their physiological status upon initiating a planktonic mode of growth. When compared to cells growing in biofilms, they displayed an increased SYBR green I staining intensity, increased transcription of the rpiA gene, decreased transcription of the icaA gene, as well as higher susceptibility to vancomycin and penicillin. When bacteria collected from biofilms with high proportions of dormant cells were subsequently cultured in the planktonic mode, a large proportion of cells maintained a low SYBR green I staining intensity and increased resistance to vancomycin and penicillin, a profile typical of dormant cells. This phenotype further associated with a decreased ability of these biofilm-derived cells to induce the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines by bone marrow-derived dendritic cells in vitro. These results demonstrated that cells detached from the biofilm maintain a dormant cell-like phenotype, having a low pro-inflammatory effect and decreased susceptibility to antibiotics, suggesting these cells may contribute to the recalcitrant nature of biofilm infections.
PMCID: PMC4170483  PMID: 25053799
18.  In vitro activity of colistin in antimicrobial combination against carbapenem-resistant Acinetobacter baumannii isolated from patients with ventilator-associated pneumonia in Vietnam 
Journal of Medical Microbiology  2015;64(Pt 10):1162-1169.
Acinetobacter baumannii has become one of the major infection threats in intensive care units (ICUs) globally. Since 2008, A. baumannii has been the leading cause of ventilator-associated pneumonia (VAP) in our ICU at an infectious disease hospital in southern Vietnam. The emergence of this pathogen in our setting is consistent with the persistence of a specific clone exhibiting resistance to carbapenems. Antimicrobial combinations may be a strategy to treat infections caused by these carbapenem-resistant A. baumannii. Therefore, we assessed potential antimicrobial combinations against local carbapenem-resistant A. baumannii by measuring in vitro interactions of colistin with four antimicrobials that are locally certified for treating VAP. We first performed antimicrobial susceptibility testing and multilocus variable number tandem repeat analysis (MLVA) genotyping on 74 A. baumannii isolated from quantitative tracheal aspirates from patients with VAP over an 18-month period. These 74 isolates could be subdivided into 21 main clusters by MLVA and >80 % were resistant to carbapenems. We selected 56 representative isolates for in vitro combination synergy testing. Synergy was observed in four (7 %), seven (13 %), 20 (36 %) and 38 (68 %) isolates with combinations of colistin with ceftazidime, ceftriaxone, imipenem and meropenem, respectively. Notably, more carbapenem-resistant A. baumannii isolates (36/43; 84 %) exhibited synergistic activity with a combination of colistin and meropenem than carbapenem-susceptible A. baumannii isolates (2/13; 15 %) (P = 0.023; Fisher's exact test). Our findings suggest that combinations of colistin and meropenem should be considered when treating carbapenem-resistant A. baumannii infections in Vietnam, and we advocate clinical trials investigating combination therapy for VAP.
PMCID: PMC4755130  PMID: 26297024
19.  Virulence genes of Helicobacter pylori in the Dominican Republic 
Journal of Medical Microbiology  2014;63(Pt 9):1189-1196.
Although the incidence of gastric cancer in the Dominican Republic is not high, the disease remains a significant health problem. We first conducted a detailed analysis of Helicobacter pylori status in the Dominican Republic. In total, 158 patients (103 females and 55 males; mean age 47.1±16.2 years) were recruited. The status of H. pylori infection was determined based on four tests: rapid urease test, culture test, histological test and immunohistochemistry. The status of cagA and vacA genotypes in H. pylori was examined using PCR and gene sequencing. The overall prevalence of H. pylori infection was 58.9 %. No relationship was found between the H. pylori infection rate and the age range of 17–91 years. Even in the youngest group (patients aged <29 years), the H. pylori infection rate was 62.5 %. Peptic ulcer was found in 23 patients and gastric cancer was found in one patient. The H. pylori infection rate in patients with peptic ulcer was significantly higher than that in patients with gastritis (82.6 versus 54.5 %, P<0.01). The cagA-positive/vacA s1m1 genotype was the most prevalent (43/64, 67.2 %). Compared with H. pylori-negative patients, H. pylori-positive patients showed more severe gastritis. Furthermore, the presence of cagA was related to the presence of more severe gastritis. All CagA-positive strains had Western-type CagA. In conclusion, we found that H. pylori infection is a risk factor for peptic ulcer in the Dominican Republic. Patients with cagA-positive H. pylori could be at higher risk for severe inflammation and atrophy.
PMCID: PMC4140083  PMID: 24965801
20.  Do English NHS Microbiology laboratories offer adequate services for the diagnosis of UTI in children? Healthcare Quality Improvement Partnership (HQIP) Audit of Standard Operational Procedures 
Journal of Medical Microbiology  2015;64(Pt 9):1030-1039.
The National Institute of Care Excellence (NICE) 2007 guidance CG54, on urinary tract infection (UTI) in children, states that clinicians should use urgent microscopy and culture as the preferred method for diagnosing UTI in the hospital setting for severe illness in children under 3 years old and from the GP setting in children under 3 years old with intermediate risk of severe illness. NICE also recommends that all ‘infants and children with atypical UTI (including non-Escherichia coli infections) should have renal imaging after a first infection’. We surveyed all microbiology laboratories in England with Clinical Pathology Accreditation to determine standard operating procedures (SOPs) for urgent microscopy, culture and reporting of children's urine and to ascertain whether the SOPs facilitate compliance with NICE guidance. We undertook a computer search in six microbiology laboratories in south-west England to determine urine submissions and urine reports in children under 3 years. Seventy-three per cent of laboratories (110/150) participated. Enterobacteriaceae that were not E. coli were reported only as coliforms (rather than non-E. coli coliforms) by 61 % (67/110) of laboratories. Eighty-eight per cent of laboratories (97/110) provided urgent microscopy for hospital and 54 % for general practice (GP) paediatric urines; 61 % of laboratories (confidence interval 52–70 %) cultured 1 μl volume of urine, which equates to one colony if the bacterial load is 106 c.f.u. l− 1. Only 22 % (24/110) of laboratories reported non-E. coli coliforms and provided urgent microscopy for both hospital and GP childhood urines; only three laboratories also cultured a 5 μl volume of urine. Only one of six laboratories in our submission audit had a significant increase in urine submissions and urines reported from children less than 3 years old between the predicted pre-2007 level in the absence of guidance and the 2008 level following publication of the NICE guidance. Less than a quarter of laboratories were providing a service that would allow clinicians to fully comply with the first line recommendations in the 2007 NICE UTI in children guidance. Laboratory urine submission report figures suggest that the guidance has not led to an increase in diagnosis of UTI in children under 3 years old.
PMCID: PMC4681043  PMID: 26297550
21.  Genetic characterization of three qnrS1-harbouring multidrug-resistance plasmids and qnrS1-containing transposons circulating in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam 
Journal of Medical Microbiology  2015;64(Pt 8):869-878.
Plasmid-mediated quinolone resistance (PMQR) refers to a family of closely related genes that confer decreased susceptibility to fluoroquinolones. PMQR genes are generally associated with integrons and/or plasmids that carry additional antimicrobial resistance genes active against a range of antimicrobials. In Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC), Vietnam, we have previously shown a high frequency of PMQR genes within commensal Enterobacteriaceae. However, there are limited available sequence data detailing the genetic context in which the PMQR genes reside, and a lack of understanding of how these genes spread across the Enterobacteriaceae. Here, we aimed to determine the genetic background facilitating the spread and maintenance of qnrS1, the dominant PMQR gene circulating in HCMC. We sequenced three qnrS1-carrying plasmids in their entirety to understand the genetic context of these qnrS1-embedded plasmids and also the association of qnrS1-mediated quinolone resistance with other antimicrobial resistance phenotypes. Annotation of the three qnrS1-containing plasmids revealed a qnrS1-containing transposon with a closely related structure. We screened 112 qnrS1-positive commensal Enterobacteriaceae isolated in the community and in a hospital in HCMC to detect the common transposon structure. We found the same transposon structure to be present in 71.4 % (45/63) of qnrS1-positive hospital isolates and in 36.7 % (18/49) of qnrS1-positive isolates from the community. The resulting sequence analysis of the qnrS1 environment suggested that qnrS1 genes are widely distributed and are mobilized on elements with a common genetic background. Our data add additional insight into mechanisms that facilitate resistance to multiple antimicrobials in Gram-negative bacteria in Vietnam.
PMCID: PMC4635468  PMID: 26272054
22.  Pathogenic properties of enterohepatic Helicobacter spp. isolated from rhesus macaques with intestinal adenocarcinoma 
Journal of Medical Microbiology  2014;63(Pt 7):1004-1016.
Considerable progress has been made in understanding the roles of Helicobacter pylori in inflammation and gastric cancer; however, far less is known about the roles of enterohepatic Helicobacter species (EHS) in carcinogenesis and their zoonotic or pathogenic potential. We determined the prevalence of EHS infection in a cohort of geriatric rhesus monkeys in which intestinal adenocarcinoma (IAC) is common and investigated the association between EHS infection and IAC. The cohort consisted of 36 animals, 14 of which (age 26–35 years) had IAC. Of the 36 rhesus, 35 (97 %) were positive for EHS using PCR or bacterial isolation from faeces, colonic or tumour tissues. Only a single rhesus, which had IAC, was negative for EHS by all detection methods. The EHS identified by 16S rRNA sequencing in this study were from three Helicobacter taxa: Helicobacter macacae (previously rhesus monkey taxon 1), Helicobacter sp. rhesus monkey taxon 2, previously described from strain MIT 99-5507, and Helicobacter sp. rhesus monkey taxon 4, related to Helicobacter fennelliae. Thirteen of 14 monkeys with IAC were positive for either H. macacae (7/13, 54 %), EHS rhesus monkey taxon 4 (4/13, 31 %) or a mixture of the two EHS (2/13, 15 %). These results indicate that EHS are prevalent among aged rhesus macaques with IAC. Using Helicobacter genus-specific florescent in situ hybridization, EHS were detected on the surface of colonic epithelia of infected monkeys. All Helicobacter isolates, including H. macacae, effectively adhered to, invaded, and significantly induced proinflammatory genes, including IL-8, IL-6, TNF-α and iNOS, while downregulating genes involved in the function of inflammasomes, particularly IL-1β, CASPASE-1, NRLP3, NLRP6 and NLRC4 in the human colonic T84 cell line (P<0.0001). These results suggest that EHS may represent an aetiological agent mediating diarrhoea, chronic inflammation, and possibly intestinal cancer in non-human primates, and may play a role in similar disease syndromes in humans. Downregulation of inflammasome function may represent an EHS strategy for long-term persistence in the host and play a role in inducing pathological changes in the host’s lower bowel.
PMCID: PMC4064350  PMID: 24696515
23.  Characterization of 17 chaperone-usher fimbriae encoded by Proteus mirabilis reveals strong conservation 
Journal of Medical Microbiology  2014;63(Pt 7):911-922.
Proteus mirabilis is a Gram-negative enteric bacterium that causes complicated urinary tract infections, particularly in patients with indwelling catheters. Sequencing of clinical isolate P. mirabilis HI4320 revealed the presence of 17 predicted chaperone-usher fimbrial operons. We classified these fimbriae into three groups by their genetic relationship to other chaperone-usher fimbriae. Sixteen of these fimbriae are encoded by all seven currently sequenced P. mirabilis genomes. The predicted protein sequence of the major structural subunit for 14 of these fimbriae was highly conserved (≥95 % identity), whereas three other structural subunits (Fim3A, UcaA and Fim6A) were variable. Further examination of 58 clinical isolates showed that 14 of the 17 predicted major structural subunit genes of the fimbriae were present in most strains (>85 %). Transcription of the predicted major structural subunit genes for all 17 fimbriae was measured under different culture conditions designed to mimic conditions in the urinary tract. The majority of the fimbrial genes were induced during stationary phase, static culture or colony growth when compared to exponential-phase aerated culture. Major structural subunit proteins for six of these fimbriae were detected using MS of proteins sheared from the surface of broth-cultured P. mirabilis, demonstrating that this organism may produce multiple fimbriae within a single culture. The high degree of conservation of P. mirabilis fimbriae stands in contrast to uropathogenic Escherichia coli and Salmonella enterica, which exhibit greater variability in their fimbrial repertoires. These findings suggest there may be evolutionary pressure for P. mirabilis to maintain a large fimbrial arsenal.
PMCID: PMC4064351  PMID: 24809384
24.  Identification of Mycobacterium avium genes associated with resistance to host antimicrobial peptides 
Journal of Medical Microbiology  2014;63(Pt 7):923-930.
Antimicrobial peptides are an important component of the innate immune defence. Mycobacterium avium subsp. hominissuis (M. avium) is an organism that establishes contact with the respiratory and gastrointestinal mucosa as a necessary step for infection. M. avium is resistant to high concentrations of polymyxin B, a surrogate for antimicrobial peptides. To determine gene-encoding proteins that are associated with this resistance, we screened a transposon library of M. avium strain 104 for susceptibility to polymyxin B. Ten susceptible mutants were identified and the inactivated genes sequenced. The great majority of the genes were related to cell wall synthesis and permeability. The mutants were then examined for their ability to enter macrophages and to survive macrophage killing. Three clones among the mutants had impaired uptake by macrophages compared with the WT strain, and all ten clones were attenuated in macrophages. The mutants were also shown to be susceptible to cathelicidin (LL-37), in contrast to the WT bacterium. All but one of the mutants were significantly attenuated in mice. In conclusion, this study indicated that the M. avium envelope is the primary defence against host antimicrobial peptides.
PMCID: PMC4064352  PMID: 24836414
25.  Characterization of culturable vaginal Lactobacillus species among women with and without bacterial vaginosis from the United States and India: a cross-sectional study 
Journal of Medical Microbiology  2014;63(Pt 7):931-935.
Lactobacillus species play an integral part in the health of the vaginal microbiota. We compared vaginal Lactobacillus species in women from India and the USA with and without bacterial vaginosis (BV). Between July 2009 and November 2010, a cross-sectional study was conducted among 40 women attending a women’s health clinic in Mysore, India, and a sexually transmitted diseases clinic in San Francisco, USA. Women were diagnosed with BV using Amsel’s criteria and the Nugent score. Lactobacillus 16S rDNA was sequenced to speciate the cultured isolates. Ten Indian and 10 US women without BV were compared with an equal number of women with BV. Lactobacilli were isolated from all healthy women, but from only 10 % of Indian and 50 % of US women with BV. 16S rDNA from 164 Lactobacillus colonies was sequenced from healthy women (126 colonies) and women with BV (38 colonies). Seven cultivable Lactobacillus species were isolated from 11 Indian women and nine species from 15 US women. The majority of Lactobacillus species among Indian women were L. crispatus (25 .0%), L. jensenii (25.0 %) and L. reuteri (16.7 %). Among US women, L. crispatus (32.0 %), L. jensenii (20.0 %) and L. coleohominis (12.0 %) predominated. L. jensenii and L. crispatus dominated the vaginal flora of healthy Indian and US women. Indian women appeared to have a higher percentage of obligate heterofermentative species, suggesting the need for a larger degree of metabolic flexibility and a more challenging vaginal environment.
PMCID: PMC4064353  PMID: 24836413

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