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In vivo evolution of antimicrobial resistance in a series of Staphylococcus aureus patient isolates: the entire picture or a cautionary tale?

Objectives: To obtain an expanded understanding of antibiotic resistance evolution in vivo, particularly in the context of vancomycin exposure. Methods: The whole genomes of six consecutive methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus blood culture isolates (ST239-MRSA-III) from a single patient exposed to various antimicrobials (over a 77 day period) were sequenced and analysed. Results: Variant analysis revealed the existence of non-susceptible sub-populations derived from a common susceptible ancestor, with the predominant circulating clone(s) selected for by type and duration of antimicrobial exposure. Conclusions: This study highlights the dynamic nature of bacterial evolution and that non-susceptible sub-populations can emerge from clouds of variation upon antimicrobial exposure. Diagnostically, this has direct implications for sample selection when using whole-genome sequencing as a tool to guide clinical therapy. In the context of bacteraemia, deep sequencing of bacterial DNA directly from patient blood samples would avoid culture ‘bias’ and identify mutations associated with circulating non-susceptible sub-populations, some of which may confer cross-resistance to alternate therapies.

Author: Van Hal SJ, Steen JA, Espedido BA, Grimmond SM, Cooper MA, Holden MT, Bentley SD, Gosbell IB, Jensen SO

Citation: J Antimicrob Chemother. 2014 Feb;69(2):363-7. doi: 10.1093/jac/dkt354. Epub 2013 Sep 18.

Published: 19/02/2014

Publication Type: Journal article

Publisher: Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy