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J Theor Biol. 2010 Jan 7;262(1):97-106. doi: 10.1016/j.jtbi.2009.09.002. Epub 2009 Sep 10.

A network-based approach for resistance transmission in bacterial populations.

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  • 1Department of Clinical Sciences, Kansas State University, Manhattan, 66506, USA.


Horizontal transfer of mobile genetic elements (conjugation) is an important mechanism whereby resistance is spread through bacterial populations. The aim of our work is to develop a mathematical model that quantitatively describes this process, and to use this model to optimize antimicrobial dosage regimens to minimize resistance development. The bacterial population is conceptualized as a compartmental mathematical model to describe changes in susceptible, resistant, and transconjugant bacteria over time. This model is combined with a compartmental pharmacokinetic model to explore the effect of different plasma drug concentration profiles. An agent-based simulation tool is used to account for resistance transfer occurring when two bacteria are adjacent or in close proximity. In addition, a non-linear programming optimal control problem is introduced to minimize bacterial populations as well as the drug dose. Simulation and optimization results suggest that the rapid death of susceptible individuals in the population is pivotal in minimizing the number of transconjugants in a population. This supports the use of potent antimicrobials that rapidly kill susceptible individuals and development of dosage regimens that maintain effective antimicrobial drug concentrations for as long as needed to kill off the susceptible population. Suggestions are made for experiments to test the hypotheses generated by these simulations.

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