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J Clin Microbiol. 2014 May;52(5):1412-7. doi: 10.1128/JCM.03098-13. Epub 2014 Feb 12.

Characterization of ocular methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus epidermidis isolates belonging predominantly to clonal complex 2 subcluster II.

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Special Clinical Microbiology Laboratory, Infectious Diseases Division, Federal University of Sao Paulo, Sao Paulo, Brazil.


Staphylococcus epidermidis is an abundant member of the microbiota of the human skin and wet mucosa, which is commonly associated with sight-threatening infections in eyes with predisposing factors. Ocular S. epidermidis has become notorious because of its capability to form biofilms on different ocular devices and due to the evolving rates of antimicrobial resistance. In this study, the molecular epidemiology of 30 ocular methicillin-resistant S. epidermidis (MRSE) isolates was assessed using multilocus sequence typing (MLST). Antimicrobial resistance, accessory gene-regulator and staphylococcal cassette chromosome mec (SCCmec) types, biofilm formation, and the occurrence of biofilm-associated genes were correlated with MLST clonal complexes. Sequence types (STs) frequently found in the hospital setting were rarely found in our collection. Overall, 12 different STs were detected with a predominance of ST59 (30%), ST5 and ST6 (13.3% each). Most of the isolates (93.3%) belonged to the clonal complex 2 (CC2) and grouped mainly within subcluster CC2-II (92.9%). Isolates grouped within this subcluster were frequently biofilm producers (92.3%) with a higher occurrence of the aap (84.5%) and bhp (46.1%) genes compared to icaA (19.2%). SCCmec type IV (53.8%) was predominant within CC2-II strains, while 38.4% were nontypeable. In addition, CC2-II strains were frequently multidrug resistant (80.7%) and demonstrated to be particularly resistant to ciprofloxacin (80.8%), ofloxacin (77%), azithromycin (61.5%), and gentamicin (57.7%). Our findings demonstrate the predominance of a particular MRSE cluster causing ocular infections, which was associated with high rates of antimicrobial resistance and particularly the carriage of biofilm-related genes coding for proteinaceous factors implicated in biofilm accumulation.

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