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J Med Microbiol. 2013 Dec;62(Pt 12):1883-90. doi: 10.1099/jmm.0.062752-0. Epub 2013 Sep 26.

First isolation of oleate-dependent Enterococcus faecalis small-colony variants from the umbilical exudate of a paediatric patient with omphalitis.

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Department of Laboratory Medicine, Nagano Children's Hospital, Azumino 399-8288, Japan.


An oleate-dependent Enterococcus faecalis isolate representing small-colony variants (SCVs) was isolated from the umbilical exudate of a 31-month-old Japanese male patient in Nagano Children's Hospital, Azumino, Japan. The patient had been suffering from recurrent omphalitis since early infancy. The initial E. faecalis SCV isolate formed small colonies on sheep blood agar plates and tiny colonies on chocolate and modified Drigalski agar, although no visible growth was observed in HK-semi solid medium after 48 h incubation in ambient air. Moreover, the SCV isolate, the colonial morphology of which was reminiscent of Streptococcus species, could not be identified using the MicroScan WalkAway-40 and API 20 Strep systems, both of which yielded profile numbers that did not correspond to any bacterial species, probably as a result of insufficient growth of the isolate. The SCV isolate was subsequently identified as E. faecalis based on its morphological, cultural and biochemical properties, and this was confirmed by sequencing the 16S rRNA gene of the organism. Investigations revealed that the addition of oleate, an unsaturated fatty acid, enabled the isolate to grow on every medium with normal-sized colony morphology. Although it has long been known that long-chain fatty acids, especially unsaturated oleic acid, have a major inhibitory effect on the growth of a variety of microorganisms, including not only mycobacteria but also streptococci, this is, to the best of our knowledge, the first clinical isolation of an oleate-dependent E. faecalis SCV isolate. In addition, oleic acid might be considered to affect the cell membrane permeability of carbohydrates or antimicrobial agents such as β-lactams.

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