Gastrointestinal Tract Colonization Dynamics by Different Enterococcus faecium Clades

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Abstract

Colonization of the gastrointestinal tract (GIT) generally precedes infection with antibiotic-resistant Enterococcus faecium. We used a mouse GIT colonization model to test differences in the colonization levels by strains from different E. faecium lineages: clade B, part of the healthy human microbiota; subclade A1, associated with infections; and subclade A2, primarily associated with animals. After mono-inoculation, there was no significant difference in colonization (measured as the geometric mean number of colony-forming units per gram) by the E. faecium clades at any time point (P > .05). However, in competition assays, with 6 of the 7 pairs, clade B strains outcompeted clade A strains in their ability to persist in the GIT; this difference was significant in some pairs by day 2 and in all pairs by day 14 (P < .0008–.0283). This observation may explain the predominance of clade B in the community and why antibiotic-resistant hospital-associated E. faecium are often replaced by clade B strains once patients leave the hospital.

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