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J Clin Microbiol. 2010 Aug;48(8):2892-6. doi: 10.1128/JCM.02482-09. Epub 2010 Jun 16.

Clostridium difficile isolates resistant to fluoroquinolones in Italy: emergence of PCR ribotype 018.

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  • 1Department of Infectious, Parasitic and Immune-Mediated Diseases, Istituto Superiore di Sanità, Viale Regina Elena 299, 00161 Rome, Italy.


Recent evidence strongly suggests an association between the use of fluoroquinolones and Clostridium difficile infection (CDI). Resistance to fluoroquinolones has been described not only in the hypervirulent strain 027, but also in other important PCR ribotypes circulating in hospital settings. In a European prospective study conducted in 2005, strains resistant to moxifloxacin represented 37.5% of C. difficile clinical isolates. In this study, we investigated a sample of 147 toxigenic C. difficile isolates, collected in Italy from 1985 to 2008, for the presence of mutations in gyr genes that conferred resistance to fluoroquinolones based on a LightCycler assay. Results were confirmed by the determination of MICs for moxifloxacin. Strains resistant to moxifloxacin were also investigated for resistance to three other fluoroquinolones and for a possible association between fluoroquinolone and macrolide-lincosamide-streptogramin B resistance. C. difficile isolates were typed by PCR ribotyping. In total, 50 clinical isolates showed substitutions in gyr genes and were resistant to fluoroquinolones. Ninety-six percent of the C. difficile resistant isolates showed the substitution Thr82-to-Ile in GyrA, as already observed in the majority of resistant strains worldwide. A significant increase of resistance (P < 0.001) was observed in the period 2002 to 2008 (56% resistant) compared to the period 1985 to 2001 (10% resistant). Coresistance with erythromycin and/or clindamycin was found in 96% (48/50) of the isolates analyzed and, interestingly, 84% of resistant strains were erm(B) negative. The majority of the fluoroquinolone-resistant isolates belonged to PCR ribotype 126 or 018. PCR ribotype 126 was the most frequently found from 2002 to 2005, whereas PCR ribotype 018 was predominant in 2007 and 2008 and still represents the majority of strains typed in our laboratory. Overall, the results demonstrate an increasing number of C. difficile strains resistant to fluoroquinolones in Italy and changes in the prevalence and type of C. difficile isolates resistant to fluoroquinolones circulating over time.

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