Fluoroquinolone resistance in Clostridium difficile isolates from a prospective study of C. difficile infections in Europe

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Abstract

The European Study Group on Clostridium difficile (ESGCD) conducted a prospective study in 2005 to monitor and characterize C. difficile strains circulating in European hospitals, collecting 411 isolates. Eighty-three of these isolates, showing resistance or intermediate resistance to moxifloxacin (MX), were selected for this study to assess susceptibility to other fluoroquinolones (FQs) and to analyse the gyr genes, encoding the DNA gyrase subunits GyrA and GyrB. Twenty MX-susceptible isolates from the surveillance study were included for comparison. Overall, one amino acid substitution in GyrA (Thr82 to Ile) and four different substitutions in GyrB (Ser416 to Ala, Asp426 to Asn, Asp426 to Val and Arg447 to Lys) were identified. A high level of resistance (MIC ⋝32 μg ml−1) to MX, ciprofloxacin (CI), gatifloxacin (GA) and levofloxacin (LE) was found in 68 isolates showing the amino acid substitution Thr82 to Ile in GyrA, in eight isolates with the substitutions Thr82 to Ile in GyrA and Ser416 to Ala in GyrB, in two isolates showing the substitution Asp426 to Asn in GyrB and in one isolate with Asp426 to Val in GyrB. The remaining four isolates showed high MICs for CI and LE, but different MIC levels for MX and GA. In particular, intermediate levels of resistance to MX were shown by two isolates, one with the substitution Thr82 to Ile in GyrA, and one showing Asp426 to Asn in GyrB. The substitution Arg447 to Lys in GyrB was found in two strains resistant to MX, CI and LE but susceptible to GA. No substitutions in GyrA were found in the FQ-susceptible strains, whereas two strains showed the amino acid change Ser416 to Ala in GyrB. Thr82 to Ile was the most frequent amino acid change identified in the C. difficile isolates examined. In contrast to previous observations, 10 % of the isolates showed this substitution in association with Ser416 to Ala in GyrB. The other amino acid changes found were characteristic of a few strains belonging to certain types and/or countries. Two new substitutions for C. difficile, Ser416 to Ala and Arg447 to Lys, were found in GyrB. Whereas the former does not seem to have a key role in resistance, since it was also detected in susceptible strains, the latter substitution occurred in the same position where other amino acid variations take place in resistant Escherichia coli and other C. difficile strains. A large number of C. difficile isolates now show an alarming pattern of resistance to the majority of FQs currently used in hospitals and outpatient settings, therefore judicious use of these antibiotics and continuous monitoring of in vitro resistance are necessary.

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