Dissemination of transferable CTX-M-type extended-spectrum beta-lactamase-producing Escherichia coli in Korea

S H Jeong, I K Bae, S B Kwon, J H Lee, J S Song, H I Jung, K H Sung, S J Jang, S H Lee
Journal of Applied Microbiology 2005, 98 (4): 921-7

AIMS: Among 365 Escherichia coli isolated in 2003, 31 cefotaxime-resistant isolates were obtained from clinical specimens taken from adults hospitalized in Busan, Korea. Six extended-spectrum beta-lactamase (ESBL)-producing isolates were investigated further to determine the mechanism of resistance.

METHODS AND RESULTS: These isolates were analysed by antibiotic susceptibility testing, pI determination, plasmid profiles, transconjugation test, PCR-restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP), enterobacterial repetitive consensus (ERIC)-PCR and DNA sequencing. All six of these isolates were found to contain the CTX-M-type ESBL genes. Five clinical isolates and their transconjugants produced CTX-M-3. One clinical isolate (K17391) and its transconjugant (trcK17391) produced CTX-M-15. Five clinical isolates also produced another TEM-1. One clinical isolate (K12776) also contained another TEM-52. CTX-M-3 ESBL gene was responsible for the resistance to piperacillin, cephalothin, cefotaxime, cefepime and aztreonam. CTX-M-15 or TEM-52 was especially responsible for the resistance to ceftazidime.

CONCLUSIONS: These results appear to represent the in vivo evolution of CTX-M-type beta-lactamase genes (bla(CTX-M-3) --> bla(CTX-M-15)) under the selective pressure of antimicrobial therapy (especially ceftazidime). PCR-RFLP is a reliable method to discriminate CTX-M-15 gene from CTX-M-3 gene. ERIC-PCR analysis revealed that dissemination of CTX-M-3 was not due to a clonal outbreak of a resistant strain but to the intra-species spread of resistance to piperacillin, cephalothin, cefotaxime, cefepime and aztreonam in Korea.

SIGNIFICANCE AND IMPACT OF THE STUDY: This is the first report of the occurrence of CTX-M-1 cluster ESBLs in Korea. A more comprehensive survey of these ESBL types from Korea is urgently needed because of the in vivo evolution of CTX-M-15 from CTX-M-3. The emergence of these CTX-M-type ESBLs suggests that diagnostic laboratories should screen for ESBLs with ceftazidime as well as cefotaxime; they should still perform clavulanate synergy tests on resistant isolates.

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