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Exposure of Staphylococcus aureus to subinhibitory concentrations of β-lactam antibiotics induces heterogeneous vancomycin-intermediate Staphylococcus aureus.

Type of publication Peer-reviewed
Publikationsform Original article (peer-reviewed)
Author Roch Mélanie, Clair Perrine, Renzoni Adriana, Reverdy Marie-Elisabeth, Dauwalder Olivier, Bes Michèle, Martra Annie, Freydière Anne-Marie, Laurent Frédéric, Reix Philippe, Dumitrescu Oana, Vandenesch François,
Project Identification of molecular markers to detect emergence of low-level glycopeptide resistance in Staphylococcus aureus
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Original article (peer-reviewed)

Journal Antimicrobial agents and chemotherapy
Volume (Issue) 58(9)
Page(s) 5306 - 14
Title of proceedings Antimicrobial agents and chemotherapy
DOI 10.1128/aac.02574-14

Open Access


Glycopeptides are known to select for heterogeneous vancomycin-intermediate Staphylococcus aureus (h-VISA) from susceptible strains. In certain clinical situations, h-VISA strains have been isolated from patients without previous exposure to glycopeptides, such as cystic fibrosis patients, who frequently receive repeated treatments with beta-lactam antibiotics. Our objective was to determine whether prolonged exposure to beta-lactam antibiotics can induce h-VISA. We exposed 3 clinical vancomycin-susceptible methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) strains to ceftazidime, ceftriaxone, imipenem, and vancomycin (as a control) at subinhibitory concentrations for 18 days in vitro. Population analyses showed progressive increases in vancomycin resistance; seven of the 12 derived strains obtained after induction were classified as h-VISA according to the following criteria: area under the curve (AUC) on day 18/AUC of Mu3 of ≥90% and/or growth on brain heart infusion (BHI) agar with 4 mg/liter vancomycin. The derived isolates had thickened cell walls proportional to the level of glycopeptide resistance. Genes known to be associated with glycopeptide resistance (vraSR, yvqF, SA1703, graRS, walKR, and rpoB) were PCR sequenced; no de novo mutations were observed upon beta-lactam exposure. To determine whether trfA, a gene encoding a glycopeptide resistance factor, was essential in the selection of h-VISA upon beta-lactam pressure, a trfA-knockout strain was generated by allelic replacement. Indeed, beta-lactam exposure of this mutated strain showed no capacity to induce vancomycin resistance. In conclusion, these results showed that beta-lactam antibiotics at subinhibitory concentrations can induce intermediate vancomycin resistance in vitro. This induction required an intact trfA locus. Our results suggest that prior use of beta-lactam antibiotics can compromise vancomycin efficacy in the treatment of MRSA infections.