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Clinical and molecular characteristics of Klebsiella pneumoniae infection in a tertiary general hospital of Wuhan, China.

OBJECTIVES: The aim of this study was to investigate the clinical and molecular characteristics of Klebsiella pneumoniae infection from a tertiary general hospital in Wuhan, China.

METHODS: From December 2019 to August 2022, 311 non-duplicate isolates of K. pneumoniae were collected from a tertiary hospital in Wuhan. These comprised 140 carbapenem-resistant K. pneumoniae (CRKP) isolates and 171 carbapenem-susceptible K. pneumoniae (CSKP) isolates. The clinical characteristics of patients with K. pneumoniae infection were retrospectively collected. Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assays were used to identify the main carbapenem resistance genes, virulence genes and multi-locus sequence typing (MLST) profiles of the isolates, and the Galleria mellonella infection model was used to determine their virulence phenotypes.

RESULTS: Independent risk factors for CRKP infection were hypertension, neurological disorders, being admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU) and prior use of antibiotics. Patient with CRKP infection had higher mortality than those with CSKP infection (23.6% vs 14.0%, P < 0.05). One hundred and two sequence types (STs) were identified among the K. pneumoniae isolates, and the most prevalent ST type was ST11 (112/311, 36.0%). All of the ST11 isolates were CRKP. Among the 112 ST11 isolates, 105 (93.8%) harboured the carbapenem resistance gene blaKPC-2 (ST11-KPC-2), and of these isolates, 78 (74.3%, 78/105) contained all of the four virulence genes, namely rmpA, rmpA2, iroN and iucA, suggesting that these genes were widespread among the isolates responsible for K. pneumoniae infections.

CONCLUSION: In this study, ST11-KPC-2 was responsible for most of the K. pneumoniae infection cases. Carbapenem resistance rather than the co-occurrence of the virulence genes rmpA, rmpA2, iroN and iucA was associated with K. pneumoniae infection-related mortality during hospitalisation. Furthermore, a high proportion of ST11-KPC-2 isolates carried all of the four virulence genes.

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