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J Med Microbiol. 2003 Jun;52(Pt 6):491-8.

Incidence of virulence determinants in clinical Enterococcus faecium and Enterococcus faecalis isolates collected in Sardinia (Italy).

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  • 1Dipartimento di Scienze Biomediche, Sezione di Microbiologia Sperimentale e Clinica, Viale S. Pietro 43/B, Università degli studi di Sassari, 07100 Sassari, Italy.


Enterococci are widely distributed in the environment; within the human body, they are normal commensals of the oral cavity, gastrointestinal tract and vagina. In recent years, enterococci have become one of the most frequent causes of acquired nosocomial infections worldwide. The molecular mechanism of virulence of these bacteria is still not completely understood. The aims of this work were to characterize phenotypically 47 isolates of Enterococcus faecalis and Enterococcus faecium collected in Sardinia (Italy) by their abilities to adhere to different epithelial cell lines (Vero and Caco-2 cells) and to associate their phenotypes with the presence of known virulence genes detected within their genomes by PCR. The following genes were amplified: AS (aggregation substance), esp (surface protein gene), ace (accessory colonization factor), efaA (E. faecalis endocarditis antigen) and gelE (gelatinase). The virulence genes were detected in E. faecalis isolates only, with the exception of esp, which was found in both species. The phenotypic and genotypic results were also compared with the susceptibility of isolates to various antibiotics.

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