Pseudomonas aeruginosa is an important causative agent of nosocomial infections. As pathogen, P. aeruginosa is of increasing clinical importance due to its ability to develop high-level multidrug resistance (MDR).
The aim of the present study was to better understand the intrinsic virulence of circulating strains of Pseudomonas aeruginosa, by surveying and characterizing the antibiotic resistance profiles and prevalence of virulence factors in 51 clinical isolates of P. aeruginosa obtained from children admitted to Hospital del Niño-Panamá during the period of October 2016 until March 2017. Antimicrobial susceptibilities were assessed by determining the minimum inhibitory concentration for 12 antibiotics against P. aeruginosa clinical isolates using the VITEK system (https://www.biomerieux.com). Additionally, all isolates were examined by Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) for the presence of components of the MexAB-OprM efflux pump system (mexABR) and pyoverdine receptor genes and betalactamases resistance genes (ESBL) using gene-specific primers.
A total of 51 pyoverdine producing clinical isolates were analyzed, all of which expressed resistance genes such as genes of the MexAB-OprM efflux pump system (mexABR) and pyoverdine receptor genes (fpvA). Out of 51 MDR isolates, 22 were ESBL producers. The most common ESBL gene was blaTEM expressed by 43% of the isolates. The isolates tested in this study showed increased resistance to antibiotics in the following categories: (i) penicillins (ampicillin (69%), piperacillin (22%); (ii) pyrimethamines (trimethoprim, 65%); (iii) nitrofurans (nitrofurantoin, 63%), and (iv) third-generation cephalosporin cefotaxime (53%). These results underscore a high prevalence of MDR amongst clinical isolates from Panama.
The present study indicates that prevalence of BlaTEM-carrying strains is increasing with subsequent multidrug resistance in Panamá and as well reported worldwide. The virulent factors identified in this study provide valuable information regarding the prevalence of resistance genes and their potential impact on treatments that exploit the unique physiology of the pathogen. To prevent further spread of MDR, the proportions of resistant strains of Pseudomonas aeruginosa should be constantly evaluated on healthcare institutions of Panamá. More importantly, this information can be used to better understand the evolution and dissemination of strains hoping to prevent the development of resistance in Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Future studies quantifying the expression of these virulent genes will emphasize on the acquisition of multidrug resistance.