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1.  Delays in Appropriate Antibiotic Therapy for Gram-Negative Bloodstream Infections: A Multicenter, Community Hospital Study 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(10):e76225.
Background
Gram-negative bacterial bloodstream infection (BSI) is a serious condition with estimated 30% mortality. Clinical outcomes for patients with severe infections improve when antibiotics are appropriately chosen and given early. The objective of this study was to estimate the association of prior healthcare exposure on time to appropriate antibiotic therapy in patients with gram-negative BSI.
Method
We performed a multicenter cohort study of adult, hospitalized patients with gram-negative BSI using time to event analysis in nine community hospitals from 2003-2006. Event time was defined as the first administration of an antibiotic with in vitro activity against the infecting organism. Healthcare exposure status was categorized as community-acquired, healthcare-associated, or hospital-acquired. Time to appropriate therapy among groups of patients with differing healthcare exposure status was assessed using Kaplan-Meier analyses and multivariate Cox proportional hazards models.
Results
The cohort included 578 patients with gram-negative BSI, including 320 (55%) healthcare-associated, 217 (38%) community-acquired, and 41 (7%) hospital-acquired infections. 529 (92%) patients received an appropriate antibiotic during their hospitalization. Time to appropriate therapy was significantly different among the groups of healthcare exposure status (log-rank p=0.02). Time to first antibiotic administration regardless of drug appropriateness was not different between groups (p=0.3). The unadjusted hazard ratios (HR) (95% confidence interval) were 0.80 (0.65-0.98) for healthcare-associated and 0.72 (0.63-0.82) for hospital-acquired, relative to patients with community-acquired BSI. In multivariable analysis, interaction was found between the main effect and baseline Charlson comorbidity index. When Charlson index was 3, adjusted HRs were 0.66 (0.48-0.92) for healthcare-associated and 0.57 (0.44-0.75) for hospital-acquired, relative to patients with community-acquired infections.
Conclusions
Patients with healthcare-associated or hospital-acquired BSI experienced delays in receipt of appropriate antibiotics for gram-negative BSI compared to patients with community-acquired BSI. This difference was not due to delayed initiation of antibiotic therapy, but due to the inappropriate choice of antibiotic.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0076225
PMCID: PMC3789716  PMID: 24098449
2.  Genetic Variability in Beta-Defensins Is Not Associated with Susceptibility to Staphylococcus aureus Bacteremia 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(2):e32315.
Introduction
Human beta-defensins are key components of human innate immunity to a variety of pathogens, including Staphylococcus aureus. The aim of the present study was to investigate a potential association between gene variations in DEFB1 and DEFB103/DEFB4 and the development of S. aureus bacteremia (SAB) employing a case-control design.
Methods
Cases were unique patients with documented SAB, identified with the National S. aureus Bacteremia Register, a comprehensive dataset of all episodes of community associated-SABs (CA-SAB) occurring in children (≤20 yrs) in Denmark from 1990 to 2006. Controls were age-matched healthy individuals with no history of SAB. DNA obtained from cases and controls using the Danish Newborn Screening Biobank were genotyped for functional polymorphisms of DEFB1 by Sanger sequencing and copy number variation of the DEFB103 and DEFB4 genes using Pyrosequencing-based Paralogue Ratio Test (P-PRT).
Results
193 ethnic Danish SAB cases with 382 age-matched controls were used for this study. S. aureus isolates represented a variety of bacterial (i.e., different spa types) types similar to SAB isolates in general. DEFB1 minor allele frequencies of rs11362 (cases vs. controls 0.47/0.44), rs1800972 (0.21/0.24), and rs1799946 (0.32/0.33) were not significantly different in cases compared with controls. Also, DEFB4/DEFB103 gene copy numbers (means 4.83/4.92) were not significantly different in cases compared with controls.
Conclusions
Using a large, unique cohort of pediatric CA-SAB, we found no significant association between DEFB1 genetic variation or DEFB4/DEFB103 gene copy number and susceptibility for SAB.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0032315
PMCID: PMC3285211  PMID: 22384213
3.  Staphylococcus aureus Bacteraemia in a Tropical Setting: Patient Outcome and Impact of Antibiotic Resistance 
PLoS ONE  2009;4(1):e4308.
Background
Most information on invasive Staphylococcus aureus infections comes from temperate countries. There are considerable knowledge gaps in epidemiology, treatment, drug resistance and outcome of invasive S. aureus infection in the tropics.
Methods
A prospective, observational study of S. aureus bacteraemia was conducted in a 1000-bed regional hospital in northeast Thailand over 1 year. Detailed clinical data were collected and final outcomes determined at 12 weeks, and correlated with antimicrobial susceptibility profiles of infecting isolates.
Principal Findings
Ninety-eight patients with S. aureus bacteraemia were recruited. The range of clinical manifestations was similar to that reported from temperate countries. The prevalence of endocarditis was 14%. The disease burden was highest at both extremes of age, whilst mortality increased with age. The all-cause mortality rate was 52%, with a mortality attributable to S. aureus of 44%. Methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA) was responsible for 28% of infections, all of which were healthcare-associated. Mortality rates for MRSA and methicillin-susceptible S. aureus (MSSA) were 67% (18/27) and 46% (33/71), respectively (p = 0.11). MRSA isolates were multidrug resistant. Only vancomycin or fusidic acid would be suitable as empirical treatment options for suspected MRSA infection.
Conclusions
S. aureus is a significant pathogen in northeast Thailand, with comparable clinical manifestations and a similar endocarditis prevalence but higher mortality than industrialised countries. S. aureus bacteraemia is frequently associated with exposure to healthcare settings with MRSA causing a considerable burden of disease. Further studies are required to define setting-specific strategies to reduce mortality from S. aureus bacteraemia, prevent MRSA transmission, and to define the burden of S. aureus disease and emergence of drug resistance throughout the developing world.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0004308
PMCID: PMC2628727  PMID: 19180198
4.  Bloodstream Infections in Community Hospitals in the 21st Century: A Multicenter Cohort Study 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(3):e91713.
Background
While the majority of healthcare in the US is provided in community hospitals, the epidemiology and treatment of bloodstream infections in this setting is unknown.
Methods and Findings
We undertook this multicenter, retrospective cohort study to 1) describe the epidemiology of bloodstream infections (BSI) in a network of community hospitals and 2) determine risk factors for inappropriate therapy for bloodstream infections in community hospitals. 1,470 patients were identified as having a BSI in 9 community hospitals in the southeastern US from 2003 through 2006. The majority of BSIs were community-onset, healthcare associated (n = 823, 56%); 432 (29%) patients had community-acquired BSI, and 215 (15%) had hospital-onset, healthcare-associated BSI. BSIs due to multidrug-resistant pathogens occurred in 340 patients (23%). Overall, the three most common pathogens were S. aureus (n = 428, 28%), E. coli (n = 359, 24%), coagulase-negative Staphylococci (n = 148, 10%), though type of infecting organism varied by location of acquisition (e.g., community-acquired). Inappropriate empiric antimicrobial therapy was given to 542 (38%) patients. Proportions of inappropriate therapy varied by hospital (median = 33%, range 21–71%). Multivariate logistic regression identified the following factors independently associated with failure to receive appropriate empiric antimicrobial therapy: hospital where the patient received care (p<0.001), assistance with ≥3 ADLs (p = 0.005), Charlson score (p = 0.05), community-onset, healthcare-associated infection (p = 0.01), and hospital-onset, healthcare-associated infection (p = 0.02). Important interaction was observed between Charlson score and location of acquisition.
Conclusions
Our large, multicenter study provides the most complete picture of BSIs in community hospitals in the US to date. The epidemiology of BSIs in community hospitals has changed: community-onset, healthcare-associated BSI is most common, S. aureus is the most common cause, and 1 of 3 patients with a BSI receives inappropriate empiric antimicrobial therapy. Our data suggest that appropriateness of empiric antimicrobial therapy is an important and needed performance metric for physicians and hospital stewardship programs in community hospitals.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0091713
PMCID: PMC3958391  PMID: 24643200
5.  Metabolomic Derangements Are Associated with Mortality in Critically Ill Adult Patients 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(1):e87538.
Objective
To identify metabolomic biomarkers predictive of Intensive Care Unit (ICU) mortality in adults.
Rationale
Comprehensive metabolomic profiling of plasma at ICU admission to identify biomarkers associated with mortality has recently become feasible.
Methods
We performed metabolomic profiling of plasma from 90 ICU subjects enrolled in the BWH Registry of Critical Illness (RoCI). We tested individual metabolites and a Bayesian Network of metabolites for association with 28-day mortality, using logistic regression in R, and the CGBayesNets Package in MATLAB. Both individual metabolites and the network were tested for replication in an independent cohort of 149 adults enrolled in the Community Acquired Pneumonia and Sepsis Outcome Diagnostics (CAPSOD) study.
Results
We tested variable metabolites for association with 28-day mortality. In RoCI, nearly one third of metabolites differed among ICU survivors versus those who died by day 28 (N = 57 metabolites, p<.05). Associations with 28-day mortality replicated for 31 of these metabolites (with p<.05) in the CAPSOD population. Replicating metabolites included lipids (N = 14), amino acids or amino acid breakdown products (N = 12), carbohydrates (N = 1), nucleotides (N = 3), and 1 peptide. Among 31 replicated metabolites, 25 were higher in subjects who progressed to die; all 6 metabolites that are lower in those who die are lipids. We used Bayesian modeling to form a metabolomic network of 7 metabolites associated with death (gamma-glutamylphenylalanine, gamma-glutamyltyrosine, 1-arachidonoylGPC(20:4), taurochenodeoxycholate, 3-(4-hydroxyphenyl) lactate, sucrose, kynurenine). This network achieved a 91% AUC predicting 28-day mortality in RoCI, and 74% of the AUC in CAPSOD (p<.001 in both populations).
Conclusion
Both individual metabolites and a metabolomic network were associated with 28-day mortality in two independent cohorts. Metabolomic profiling represents a valuable new approach for identifying novel biomarkers in critically ill patients.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0087538
PMCID: PMC3907548  PMID: 24498130
6.  Staphylococcus aureus Alpha Toxin Suppresses Effective Innate and Adaptive Immune Responses in a Murine Dermonecrosis Model 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(10):e75103.
An optimal host response against Staphylococcus aureus skin and soft tissue infections (SSTI) is dependent on IL-1β and IL-17 mediated abscess formation. Alpha toxin (AT), an essential virulence factor for SSTI, has been reported to damage tissue integrity; however its effect on the immune response has not been investigated. Here, we demonstrate that infection with USA300 AT isogenic mutant (Δhla), or passive immunization with an AT neutralizing mAb, 2A3, 24 h prior to infection with wild type USA300 (WT), resulted in dermonecrotic lesion size reduction, and robust neutrophil infiltration. Infiltration correlates with increase in proinflammatory cytokines and chemokines, as well as enhanced bacterial clearance relative to immunization with a negative control mAb. In addition, infection with Δhla, or with WT +2A3, resulted in an early influx of innate IL-17+γδT cells and a more rapid induction of an adaptive immune response as measured by Th1 and Th17 cell recruitment at the site of infection. These results are the first direct evidence of a role for AT in subverting the innate and adaptive immune responses during a S. aureus SSTI. Further, these effects of AT can be overcome with a high affinity anti-AT mAb resulting in a reduction in disease severity.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0075103
PMCID: PMC3788755  PMID: 24098366
7.  Host Gene Expression Profiling and In Vivo Cytokine Studies to Characterize the Role of Linezolid and Vancomycin in Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) Murine Sepsis Model 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(4):e60463.
Linezolid (L), a potent antibiotic for Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), inhibits bacterial protein synthesis. By contrast, vancomycin (V) is a cell wall active agent. Here, we used a murine sepsis model to test the hypothesis that L treatment is associated with differences in bacterial and host characteristics as compared to V. Mice were injected with S. aureus USA300, and then intravenously treated with 25 mg/kg of either L or V at 2 hours post infection (hpi). In vivo alpha-hemolysin production was reduced in both L and V-treated mice compared to untreated mice but the reduction did not reach the statistical significance [P = 0.12 for L; P = 0.70 for V). PVL was significantly reduced in L-treated mice compared to untreated mice (P = 0.02). However the reduction of in vivo PVL did not reach the statistical significance in V- treated mice compared to untreated mice (P = 0.27). Both antibiotics significantly reduced IL-1β production [P = 0.001 for L; P = 0.006 for V]. IL-6 was significantly reduced with L but not V antibiotic treatment [P<0.001 for L; P = 0.11 for V]. Neither treatment significantly reduced production of TNF-α. Whole-blood gene expression profiling showed no significant effect of L and V on uninfected mice. In S. aureus-infected mice, L altered the expression of a greater number of genes than V (95 vs. 42; P = 0.001). Pathway analysis for the differentially expressed genes identified toll-like receptor signaling pathway to be common to each S. aureus-infected comparison. Expression of immunomodulatory genes like Cxcl9, Cxcl10, Il1r2, Cd14 and Nfkbia was different among the treatment groups. Glycerolipid metabolism pathway was uniquely associated with L treatment in S. aureus infection. This study demonstrates that, as compared to V, treatment with L is associated with reduced levels of toxin production, differences in host inflammatory response, and distinct host gene expression characteristics in MRSA sepsis.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0060463
PMCID: PMC3614971  PMID: 23565251
8.  Gene Expression-Based Classifiers Identify Staphylococcus aureus Infection in Mice and Humans 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(1):e48979.
Staphylococcus aureus causes a spectrum of human infection. Diagnostic delays and uncertainty lead to treatment delays and inappropriate antibiotic use. A growing literature suggests the host’s inflammatory response to the pathogen represents a potential tool to improve upon current diagnostics. The hypothesis of this study is that the host responds differently to S. aureus than to E. coli infection in a quantifiable way, providing a new diagnostic avenue. This study uses Bayesian sparse factor modeling and penalized binary regression to define peripheral blood gene-expression classifiers of murine and human S. aureus infection. The murine-derived classifier distinguished S. aureus infection from healthy controls and Escherichia coli-infected mice across a range of conditions (mouse and bacterial strain, time post infection) and was validated in outbred mice (AUC>0.97). A S. aureus classifier derived from a cohort of 94 human subjects distinguished S. aureus blood stream infection (BSI) from healthy subjects (AUC 0.99) and E. coli BSI (AUC 0.84). Murine and human responses to S. aureus infection share common biological pathways, allowing the murine model to classify S. aureus BSI in humans (AUC 0.84). Both murine and human S. aureus classifiers were validated in an independent human cohort (AUC 0.95 and 0.92, respectively). The approach described here lends insight into the conserved and disparate pathways utilized by mice and humans in response to these infections. Furthermore, this study advances our understanding of S. aureus infection; the host response to it; and identifies new diagnostic and therapeutic avenues.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0048979
PMCID: PMC3541361  PMID: 23326304
9.  Evaluation of Dynamic [18F]-FDG-PET Imaging for the Detection of Acute Post-Surgical Bone Infection 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(7):e41863.
Diagnosing bone infection in its acute early stage is of utmost clinical importance as the failure to do so results in a therapeutically recalcitrant chronic infection that can only be resolved with extensive surgical intervention, the end result often being a structurally unstable defect requiring reconstructive procedures. [18F]-FDG-PET has been extensively investigated for this purpose, but the results have been mixed in that, while highly sensitive, its specificity with respect to distinguishing between acute infection and sterile inflammatory processes, including normal recuperative post-surgical healing, is limited. This study investigated the possibility that alternative means of acquiring and analyzing FDG-PET data could be used to overcome this lack of specificity without an unacceptable loss of sensitivity. This was done in the context of an experimental rabbit model of post-surgical osteomyelitis with the objective of distinguishing between acute infection and sterile post-surgical inflammation. Imaging was done 7 and 14 days after surgery with continuous data acquisition for a 90-minute period after administration of tracer. Results were evaluated based on both single and dual time point data analysis. The results suggest that the diagnostic utility of FDG-PET is likely limited to well-defined clinical circumstances. We conclude that, in the complicated clinical context of acute post-surgical or post-traumatic infection, the diagnostic utility accuracy of FDG-PET is severely limited based on its focus on the increased glucose utilization that is generally characteristic of inflammatory processes.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0041863
PMCID: PMC3408436  PMID: 22860021
10.  Proton-Binding Capacity of Staphylococcus aureus Wall Teichoic Acid and Its Role in Controlling Autolysin Activity 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(7):e41415.
Wall teichoic acid (WTA) or related polyanionic cell wall glycopolymers are produced by most Gram-positive bacterial species and have been implicated in various cellular functions. WTA and the proton gradient across bacterial membranes are known to control the activity of autolysins but the molecular details of these interactions are poorly understood. We demonstrate that WTA contributes substantially to the proton-binding capacity of Staphylococcus aureus cell walls and controls autolysis largely via the major autolysin AtlA whose activity is known to decline at acidic pH values. Compounds that increase or decrease the activity of the respiratory chain, a main source of protons in the cell wall, modulated autolysis rates in WTA-producing cells but did not affect the augmented autolytic activity observed in a WTA-deficient mutant. We propose that WTA represents a cation-exchanger like mesh in the Gram-positive cell envelopes that is required for creating a locally acidified milieu to govern the pH-dependent activity of autolysins.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0041415
PMCID: PMC3402425  PMID: 22911791
11.  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.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0037212
PMCID: PMC3356380  PMID: 22623995
12.  Catheter Colonization and Abscess Formation Due to Staphylococcus epidermidis with Normal and Small-Colony-Variant Phenotype Is Mouse Strain Dependent 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(5):e36602.
Coagulase-negative staphylococci (CoNS) form a thick, multilayered biofilm on foreign bodies and are a major cause of nosocomial implant-associated infections. Although foreign body infection models are well-established, limited in vivo data are available for CoNS with small-colony-variant (SCV) phenotype described as causative agents in implant-associated infections. Therefore, we investigated the impact of the Staphylococcus epidermidis phenotype on colonization of implanted PVC catheters and abscess formation in three different mouse strains. Following introduction of a catheter subcutaneously in each flank of 8- to 12-week-old inbred C57BL/6JCrl (B6J), outbred Crl:CD1(ICR) (CD-1), and inbred BALB/cAnNCrl (BALB/c) male mice, doses of S. epidermidis O-47 wild type, its hemB mutant with stable SCV phenotype, or its complemented mutant at concentrations of 106 to 109 colony forming units (CFUs) were gently spread onto each catheter. On day 7, mice were sacrificed and the size of the abscesses as well as bacterial colonization was determined. A total of 11,500 CFUs of the complemented mutant adhered to the catheter in BALB/c followed by 9,960 CFUs and 9,900 CFUs from S. epidermidis wild type in BALB/c and CD-1, respectively. SCV colonization was highest in CD-1 with 9,500 CFUs, whereas SCVs were not detected in B6J. The minimum dose that led to colonization or abscess formation in all mouse strains was 107 or 108 CFUs of the normal phenotype, respectively. A minimum dose of 108 or 109 CFU of the hemB mutant with stable SCV phenotype led to colonization only or abscess formation, respectively. The largest abscesses were detected in BALB/c inoculated with wild type bacteria or SCV (64 mm2 vs. 28 mm2). Our results indicate that colonization and abscess formation by different phenotypes of S. epidermidis in a foreign body infection model is most effective in inbred BALB/c followed by outbred CD-1 and inbred B6J mice.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0036602
PMCID: PMC3346766  PMID: 22586482
13.  Transmission of MRSA between Companion Animals and Infected Human Patients Presenting to Outpatient Medical Care Facilities 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(11):e26978.
Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is a significant pathogen in both human and veterinary medicine. The importance of companion animals as reservoirs of human infections is currently unknown. The companion animals of 49 MRSA-infected outpatients (cases) were screened for MRSA carriage, and their bacterial isolates were compared with those of the infected patients using Pulsed-Field Gel Electrophoresis (PFGE). Rates of MRSA among the companion animals of MRSA-infected patients were compared to rates of MRSA among companion animals of pet guardians attending a “veterinary wellness clinic” (controls). MRSA was isolated from at least one companion animal in 4/49 (8.2%) households of MRSA-infected outpatients vs. none of the pets of the 50 uninfected human controls. Using PFGE, patient-pets MRSA isolates were identical for three pairs and discordant for one pair (suggested MRSA inter-specie transmission p-value = 0.1175). These results suggest that companion animals of MRSA-infected patients can be culture-positive for MRSA, representing a potential source of infection or re-infection for humans. Further studies are required to better understand the epidemiology of MRSA human-animal inter-specie transmission.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0026978
PMCID: PMC3213111  PMID: 22102871
14.  Rhesus Macaques (Macaca mulatta) Are Natural Hosts of Specific Staphylococcus aureus Lineages 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(10):e26170.
Currently, there is no animal model known that mimics natural nasal colonization by Staphylococcus aureus in humans. We investigated whether rhesus macaques are natural nasal carriers of S. aureus. Nasal swabs were taken from 731 macaques. S. aureus isolates were typed by pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE), spa repeat sequencing and multi-locus sequence typing (MLST), and compared with human strains. Furthermore, the isolates were characterized by several PCRs. Thirty-nine percent of 731 macaques were positive for S. aureus. In general, the macaque S. aureus isolates differed from human strains as they formed separate PFGE clusters, 50% of the isolates were untypeable by agr genotyping, 17 new spa types were identified, which all belonged to new sequence types (STs). Furthermore, 66% of macaque isolates were negative for all superantigen genes. To determine S. aureus nasal colonization, three nasal swabs from 48 duo-housed macaques were taken during a 5 month period. In addition, sera were analyzed for immunoglobulin G and A levels directed against 40 staphylococcal proteins using a bead-based flow cytometry technique. Nineteen percent of the animals were negative for S. aureus, and 17% were three times positive. S. aureus strains were easily exchanged between macaques. The antibody response was less pronounced in macaques compared to humans, and nasal carrier status was not associated with differences in serum anti-staphylococcal antibody levels. In conclusion, rhesus macaques are natural hosts of S. aureus, carrying host-specific lineages. Our data indicate that rhesus macaques are useful as an autologous model for studying S. aureus nasal colonization and infection prevention.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0026170
PMCID: PMC3197613  PMID: 22028827
15.  Vancomycin Activates σB in Vancomycin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus Resulting in the Enhancement of Cytotoxicity 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(9):e24472.
The alternative transcription factor σB is responsible for transcription in Staphylococcus aureus during the stress response. Many virulence-associated genes are directly or indirectly regulated by σB. We hypothesized that treatment with antibiotics may act as an environmental stressor that induces σB activity in antibiotic-resistant strains. Several antibiotics with distinct modes of action, including ampicillin (12 µg/ml), vancomycin (16 or 32 µg/ml), chloramphenicol (15 µg/ml), ciprofloxacin (0.25 µg/ml), and sulfamethoxazole/trimethoprim (SXT, 0.8 µg/ml), were investigated for their ability to activate this transcription factor. We were especially interested in the stress response in vancomycin-resistant S. aureus (VRSA) strains treated with vancomycin. The transcription levels of selected genes associated with virulence were also measured. Real-time quantitative reverse transcription PCR was employed to evaluate gene transcription levels. Contact hemolytic and cytotoxicity assays were used to evaluate cell damage following antibiotic treatment. Antibiotics that target the cell wall (vancomycin and ampicillin) and SXT induced σB activity in VRSA strains. Expression of σB-regulated virulence genes, including hla and fnbA, was associated with the vancomycin-induced σB activity in VRSA strains and the increase in cytotoxicity upon vancomycin treatment. These effects were not observed in the sigB-deficient strain but were observed in the complemented strain. We demonstrate that sub-minimum inhibitory concentration (sub-MIC) levels of antibiotics act as environmental stressors and activate the stress response sigma factor, σB. The improper use of antibiotics may alter the expression of virulence factors through the activation of σB in drug-resistant strains of S. aureus and lead to worse clinical outcomes.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0024472
PMCID: PMC3166330  PMID: 21912698
16.  Reduced Neutrophil Apoptosis in Diabetic Mice during Staphylococcal Infection Leads to Prolonged Tnfα Production and Reduced Neutrophil Clearance 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(8):e23633.
Diabetes is a frequent underlying medical condition among individuals with Staphylococcus aureus infections, and diabetic patients often suffer from chronic inflammation and prolonged infections. Neutrophils are the most abundant inflammatory cells during the early stages of bacterial diseases, and previous studies have reported deficiencies in neutrophil function in diabetic hosts. We challenged age-matched hyperglycemic and normoglycemic NOD mice intraperitoneally with S. aureus and evaluated the fate of neutrophils recruited to the peritoneal cavity. Neutrophils were more abundant in the peritoneal fluids of infected diabetic mice by 48 h after bacterial inoculation, and they showed prolonged viability ex vivo compared to neutrophils from infected nondiabetic mice. These differences correlated with reduced apoptosis of neutrophils from diabetic mice and were dependent upon the presence of S. aureus and a functional neutrophil respiratory burst. Decreased apoptosis correlated with impaired clearance of neutrophils by macrophages both in vitro and in vivo and prolonged production of proinflammatory tumor necrosis factor alpha by neutrophils from diabetic mice. Our results suggest that defects in neutrophil apoptosis may contribute to the chronic inflammation and the inability to clear staphylococcal infections observed in diabetic patients.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0023633
PMCID: PMC3166063  PMID: 21912601
17.  Potential Associations between Severity of Infection and the Presence of Virulence-Associated Genes in Clinical Strains of Staphylococcus aureus 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(4):e18673.
Background
The clinical spectrum of Staphylococcus aureus infection ranges from asymptomatic nasal carriage to osteomyelitis, infective endocarditis (IE) and death. In this study, we evaluate potential association between the presence of specific genes in a collection of prospectively characterized S. aureus clinical isolates and clinical outcome.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Two hundred thirty-nine S. aureus isolates (121 methicillin-resistant S. aureus [MRSA] and 118 methicillin-susceptible S. aureus [MSSA]) were screened by array comparative genomic hybridization (aCGH) to identify genes implicated in complicated infections. After adjustment for multiple tests, 226 genes were significantly associated with severity of infection. Of these 226 genes, 185 were not in the SCCmec element. Within the 185 non-SCCmec genes, 171 were less common and 14 more common in the complicated infection group. Among the 41 genes in the SCCmec element, 37 were more common and 4 were less common in the complicated group. A total of 51 of the 2014 sequences evaluated, 14 non-SCCmec and 37 SCCmec, were identified as genes of interest.
Conclusions/Significance
Of the 171 genes less common in complicated infections, 152 are of unknown function and may contribute to attenuation of virulence. The 14 non-SCCmec genes more common in complicated infections include bacteriophage-encoded genes such as regulatory factors and autolysins with potential roles in tissue adhesion or biofilm formation.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0018673
PMCID: PMC3082525  PMID: 21541311

Results 1-17 (17)