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J Clin Microbiol. 2013 Oct;51(10):3270-6. doi: 10.1128/JCM.01315-13. Epub 2013 Jul 24.

Escherichia coli sequence type 131 as a prominent cause of antibiotic resistance among urinary Escherichia coli isolates from reproductive-age women.

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Charles Sturt University, Leeds Parade, Orange, NSW, Australia.


The recent emergence of multidrug-resistant Escherichia coli sequence type 131 (ST131) has coincided with an increase in general antibiotic resistance of E. coli, suggesting that ST131 has a contributing role in resistance. However, there is little information about the contribution of ST131 to different clinical syndromes or the basis for its impressive emergence and epidemic spread. To investigate this, we studied 953 E. coli isolates from women of reproductive age in the central west region of New South Wales, Australia, including 623 urinary isolates from patients with cystitis (cystitis isolates) (n = 322) or pyelonephritis (pyelonephritis isolates) (n = 301) and 330 fecal isolates from healthy controls. The characteristics studied included ST131 clonal group status, resistance to different antibiotics, presence of virulence factor (VF) genes, and biofilm production. As expected, fecal isolates differed significantly from urinary (cystitis and pyelonephritis) isolates in most of the studied characteristics. Antibiotic resistance was significantly more common in ST131 than in non-ST131 isolates. Both antibiotic resistance and ST131 were more common in pyelonephritis than cystitis isolates and least so among fecal isolates. Within each source group, individual VF genes were more prevalent and VF scores were higher for ST131 than for non-ST131 isolates. For ST131 only, the prevalences of most individual VF genes and VF scores were the lowest in the fecal isolates, higher in the cystitis isolates, and highest in the pyelonephritis isolates. Biofilm production was strongly associated with ST131 status and antibiotic resistance. These results clarify the distribution of the ST131 clonal group and its epidemiological associations in our region and suggest that it exhibits both enhanced virulence and increased antibiotic resistance compared with those of other urinary tract infection (UTI) and fecal E. coli isolates from women of reproductive age.

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