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Ann Clin Microbiol Antimicrob. 2013 Aug 21;12:21. doi: 10.1186/1476-0711-12-21.

Molecular epidemiological study of clinical Acinetobacter baumannii isolates: phenotype switching of antibiotic resistance.

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Department of Life Science, College of Life Science, National Chung Hsing University, No, 250 Kuo-Kuang Road, Taichung 402, Taiwan, R,O,C.



The presence of clinical Acinetobacter baumannii (A. baumannii) isolates with differing antibiotic resistance phenotypes in the same patient causes difficulties and confusion in treatment. This phenomenon may be caused by reasons such as cross-infection from neighboring patients that switches to different A. baumannii strain, natural mutation of A. baumannii, inducing of different antibiotic resistance genes expression or acquisition of genes conferring resistance from another source. To elucidate this question, clinical A. baumannii strains, isolated from the same individual patients, showed antibiotic resistance phenotypes switching during the same hospitalization period, were attentively collected for further analysis. Molecular approaches for phylogenetic analysis, including pulsed field gel electrophoresis, multilocus sequence typing, and short tandem repeat analysis, were employed for the chronological studies.


Our results showed that antibiotic resistance phenotype switching could have occurred as a result through both cross-infection and natural mutation roots. Our results also suggest that rapid phenotype switching between paired isolates could occur during one single course of antibiotic treatment.


Though cross infection caused antibiotic resistance phenotype switching does occur, natural mutation of A. baumannii isolates is particularly cautious for antibiotic treatment.

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