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Future Microbiol. 2012 Dec;7(12):1389-99. doi: 10.2217/fmb.12.116.

Mechanisms of antibiotic resistance in Burkholderia pseudomallei: implications for treatment of melioidosis.

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Colorado State University, Department of Microbiology, Immunology & Pathology, IDRC at Foothills Campus, 0922 Campus Delivery, Fort Collins, CO 80523, USA.


Burkholderia pseudomallei is the etiologic agent of melioidosis. This multifaceted disease is difficult to treat, resulting in high morbidity and mortality. Treatment of B. pseudomallei infections is lengthy and necessitates an intensive phase (parenteral ceftazidime, amoxicillin-clavulanic acid or meropenem) and an eradication phase (oral trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole). The main resistance mechanisms affecting these antibiotics include enzymatic inactivation, target deletion and efflux from the cell, and are mediated by chromosomally encoded genes. Overproduction and mutations in the class A PenA β-lactamase cause ceftazidime and amoxicillin-clavulanic acid resistance. Deletion of the penicillin binding protein 3 results in ceftazidime resistance. BpeEF-OprC efflux pump expression causes trimethoprim and trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole resistance. Although resistance is still relatively rare, therapeutic efficacies may be compromised by resistance emergence due to increased use of antibiotics in endemic regions. Novel agents and therapeutic strategies are being tested and, in some instances, show promise as anti-B. pseudomallei infectives.

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