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1.  Combinatorial Phenotypic Signatures Distinguish Persistent from Resolving Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus Bacteremia Isolates ▿  
Persistent methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) bacteremia (PB) (positive blood cultures after ≥7 days of therapy) represents a clinically challenging subset of invasive MRSA infections. In this investigation, we examined the potential correlation of specific virulence signatures with PB versus resolving MRSA bacteremia (RB) (negative blood cultures within 2 to 4 days of therapy) strains. Thirty-six MRSA isolates from patients enrolled in a recent multinational clinical trial were studied for (i) susceptibility to host defense cationic peptides (HDPs) (i.e., thrombin-induced platelet microbicidal proteins [tPMPs] and human neutrophil peptide 1 [hNP-1]); (ii) adherence to host endovascular ligands (fibronectin) and cells (endothelial cells); and (iii) biofilm formation. We found that PB isolates exhibited significantly reduced susceptibilities to tPMPs and hNP-1 (P < 0.001 and P = 0.023, respectively). There was no significant association between the PB outcome and fibronectin binding, endothelial cell binding, or biofilm formation (P = 0.25, 0.97, and 0.064 versus RB strains, respectively). However, multiple logistic regression analysis revealed that the PB outcome was significantly associated with the combination of reduced susceptibilities to HDPs and extent of biofilm formation (P < 0.0001). Similar results were obtained in a second analysis using days of bacteremia as a continuous outcome, showing that reduced HDP susceptibilities and increased biofilm formation cocontributed to predict the duration of bacteremia. Our data indicate that PB isolates have specific pathogenic signatures independent of conventional antimicrobial susceptibility. These combinatorial mosaics can be defined and used to prospectively distinguish PB from RB strains in advance and potentially to predict ultimate clinical outcomes.
doi:10.1128/AAC.01028-10
PMCID: PMC3028773  PMID: 21098242
2.  Phenotypic and Genotypic Characteristics of Persistent Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus Bacteremia In Vitro and in an Experimental Endocarditis Model 
The Journal of infectious diseases  2009;199(2):201-208.
Background
Persistent MRSA bacteremia (PB) represents an important subset of Staphylococcus aureus infections and correlates with poor clinical outcomes.
Methods
We profiled relevant in vitro phenotypic and genotypic characteristics of MRSA isolates from 39 persons with bacteremia (21 had PB and 18 had resolving bacteremia [RB]). We also compared the intrinsic virulence and responsiveness to vancomycin of selected PB and RB strains in an experimental endocarditis model (IE).
Results
PB and RB isolates differed significantly with regard to several in vitro characteristics that are believed to impact endovascular infections. PB isolates exhibited significantly more resistance to the cationic defensin hNP-1, enhanced membrane fluidity, and substantially greater adhesion to fibronectin, fibrinogen, and endothelial cells. Genotypically, PB isolates had higher frequency of SCCmec II, CC30, and spa 16; and higher rates of agr type III, cap8, tst-1, and cna carriage. Finally, a prototypic PB strain was more resistant to vancomycin treatment in the infective endocarditis model than a RB comparator strain, despite equivalent virulence profiles.
Conclusions
Our findings indicate that PB isolates may have specific virulence signatures that distinguish them from RB isolates. These data suggest that methods might be developed to identify patients at higher risk for PB in real-time, thereby optimizing the effectiveness of anti-MRSA therapeutic strategies.
doi:10.1086/595738
PMCID: PMC2827482  PMID: 19086913
3.  Reduced Susceptibility of Staphylococcus aureus to Vancomycin and Platelet Microbicidal Protein Correlates with Defective Autolysis and Loss of Accessory Gene Regulator (agr) Function 
Loss of agr function, vancomycin exposure, and abnormal autolysis have been linked with both development of the GISA phenotype and low-level resistance in vitro to thrombin-induced platelet microbicidal proteins (tPMPs). We examined the potential in vitro interrelationships among these parameters in well-characterized, isogenic laboratory-derived and clinical Staphylococcus aureus isolates. The laboratory-derived S. aureus strains included RN6607 (agrII-positive parent) and RN6607V (vancomycin-passaged variant; hetero-GISA), RN9120 (RN6607 agr::tetM; agr II knockout parent), RN9120V (vancomycin-passaged variant), and RN9120-GISA (vancomycin passaged, GISA). Two serial isolates from a vancomycin-treated patient with recalcitrant, methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA) endocarditis were also studied: A5937 (agrII-positive initial isolate) and A5940 (agrII-defective/hetero-GISA isolate obtained after prolonged vancomycin administration). In vitro tPMP susceptibility phenotypes were assessed after exposure of strains to either 1 or 2 μg/ml. Triton X-100- and vancomycin-induced lysis profiles were determined spectrophotometrically. For agrII-intact strain RN6607, vancomycin exposure in vitro was associated with modest increases in vancomycin MICs and reduced killing by tPMP, but no change in lysis profiles. In contrast, vancomycin exposure of agrII-negative RN9120 yielded a hetero-GISA phenotype and was associated with defects in lysis and reduced in vitro killing by tPMP. In the clinical isolates, loss of agrII function during prolonged vancomycin therapy was accompanied by emergence of the hetero-GISA phenotype and reduced tPMP killing, with no significant change in lysis profiles. An association was identified between loss of agrII function and the emergence of hetero-GISA phenotype during either in vitro or in vivo vancomycin exposure. In vitro, these events were associated with defective lysis and reduced susceptibility to tPMP. The precise mechanism(s) underlying these findings is the subject of current investigations.
doi:10.1128/AAC.49.7.2687-2692.2005
PMCID: PMC1168700  PMID: 15980337
4.  In Vitro Resistance to Thrombin-Induced Platelet Microbicidal Protein among Clinical Bacteremic Isolates of Staphylococcus aureus Correlates with an Endovascular Infectious Source 
Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy  1998;42(12):3169-3172.
Platelet microbicidal proteins (PMPs), small cationic peptides released at sites of endovascular damage, kill common bloodstream pathogens in vitro. Our group previously showed that in vitro resistance of clinical staphylococcal and viridans group streptococcal bacteremic strains to PMPs correlated with the diagnosis of infective endocarditis (IE) (Wu et al., Antimicrob. Agents Chemother. 38:729–732, 1994). However, that study was limited by (i) the small number of Staphylococcus aureus isolates from IE patients, (ii) the retrospective nature of the case definitions, and (iii) the diverse geographic sources of strains. The present study evaluated the in vitro PMP susceptibility phenotype of a large number of staphylococcemic isolates (n = 60), collected at a single medical center and categorized by defined and validated clinical criteria. A significantly higher proportion of staphylococcemic strains from patients with IE was PMP resistant in vitro than the proportion of strains from patients with soft tissue sepsis (83% and 33%, respectively; P < 0.01). Moreover, the levels of PMP resistance (mean percent survival of strains after 2-h exposure to PMP in vitro) were significantly higher for isolates from patients with IE and with vascular catheter sepsis than for strains from patients with abscess sepsis (P < 0.005 and P < 0.01, respectively). These data further support the concept that bloodstream pathogens that exhibit innate or acquired PMP resistance have a survival advantage with respect to either the induction or progression of endovascular infections.
PMCID: PMC106018  PMID: 9835510

Results 1-4 (4)