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Mechanisms of Heteroresistance and Resistance to Imipenem in Pseudomonas aeruginosa

Authors Xu Y, Zheng X, Zeng W, Chen T, Liao W, Qian J, Lin J, Zhou C, Tian X, Cao J, Zhou T

Received 12 February 2020

Accepted for publication 21 April 2020

Published 14 May 2020 Volume 2020:13 Pages 1419—1428


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Professor Suresh Antony

Ye Xu,1 Xiangkuo Zheng,2 Weiliang Zeng,2 Tao Chen,1 Wenli Liao,1 Jiao Qian,1 Jie Lin,1 Cui Zhou,1 Xuebin Tian,2 Jianming Cao,2 Tieli Zhou1

1Department of Clinical Laboratory, The First Affiliated Hospital of Wenzhou Medical University, Wenzhou, Zhejiang Province, People’s Republic of China; 2Department of Medical Laboratory Science, School of Laboratory Medicine and Life Science, Wenzhou Medical University, Wenzhou, Zhejiang Province, People’s Republic of China

Correspondence: Jianming Cao; Tieli Zhou Tel +86-577-88069595
; +86-577-86689885

Background: Heteroresistance is a phenomenon that occurs in all bacteria and can cause treatment failure. Yet, the exact mechanisms responsible for heteroresistance still remain unknown. The following study investigated the mechanisms of imipenem-heteroresistance and -resistance in Pseudomonas aeruginosa clinical isolates from Wenzhou, China.
Methods: Imipenem resistance was detected by the agar dilution method; heteroresistance was determined by population analysis profiles. Biofilm formation assay and modified carbapenem inactivation methods were also performed. Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) was conducted to detect oprD, and quantitative real-time PCR was used to determine expression levels of oprD, ampC and four efflux pump coding genes (mexB, mexD, mexE and mexY).
Results: Six imipenem-heteroresistant and -resistant P. aeruginosa isolates were selected respectively. Deficient oprD was detected in all resistant isolates and two heteroresistant isolates. No strains produced carbapenemases. Expression levels of oprD were down-regulated in heteroresistant isolates. Transcription levels of the mexE and mexY were significantly increased in all heterogeneous subpopulations compared with their respective native ones. Compared with the susceptible group, increased mean relative expression levels of mexE and mexY or the decreased mean relative expression levels of oprD were observed in the resistant group (P < 0.05), whereas transcription levels of the mexB and mexD remained unchanged.
Conclusion: Down-regulation of oprD contributed to the resistance and heteroresistance of imipenem in our P. aeruginosa clinical isolates. In addition, the marginal up-regulation of efflux systems may indirectly affect imipenem resistance. Contrarily, defective oprD was less common in our experimental heteroresistant strains than resistant strains.

Keywords: Pseudomonas aeruginosa, imipenem, resistance, heteroresistance, molecular mechanism, oprD

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