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Multidrug-resistant Acinetobacter baumannii strains with NDM-1: Molecular characterization and in vitro efficacy of meropenem-based combinations

Acinetobacter baumannii is an important cause of hospital-acquired, multidrug-resistant (MDR) infections occurring worldwide. Anti-microbial combination regimens may be the only feasible treatment option for affected patients. In the present study, the efficacy of the combined therapy of meropenem with colistin, ampicillin-sulbactam, tazobactam and vancomycin against clinical strains of MDR A. baumannii was determined. Anti-microbial susceptibility testing was performed and resistance genes were characterized by a multiplex polymerase chain reaction (PCR)-reverse line blot assay. The genetic background of New Delhi metallo-β-lactamase 1 (NDM-1) was analysed by primer walking. The presence of NDM-1 was detected using the modified Hodge test and the EDTA-combined disk test. To screen for synergistic drug effects, the fractional inhibitory concentration index was calculated using a checkerboard assay. The results of the PCR as well as the sequence analyses suggested that NDM-1 was located downstream of the ISAba125 element. In addition, a synergistic effect was determined for meropenem + vancomycin, meropenem + tazobactam and meropenem + ampicillin + sulbactam in two strains each, and in four strains for meropenem + colistin. A total of five A. baumannii strains with resistance to numerous antibiotics and carrying numerous resistance genes were identified. In the strains of A. baumannii, the NDM-1 gene was integrated in a transposon structure with a copy of the ISAba125 insertion sequence. However, the genetic background was not identical among the different species and strains. The genetic variability of NDM-1 may facilitate the rapid dissemination of this gene. In conclusion, meropenem may enhance the efficacy of antibiotics in A. baumannii strains with NDM-1-associated MDR.

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