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J Antimicrob Chemother. 2014 Aug;69(8):2086-90. doi: 10.1093/jac/dku118. Epub 2014 Apr 28.

Treatment failure with 2 g of azithromycin (extended-release formulation) in gonorrhoea in Japan caused by the international multidrug-resistant ST1407 strain of Neisseria gonorrhoeae.

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National Institute of Infectious Diseases, Tokyo, Japan.
WHO Collaborating Centre for Gonorrhoea and other STIs, Department of Laboratory Medicine, Microbiology, Örebro University Hospital, Örebro, Sweden.
Sonezaki Furubayashi Clinic, Osaka, Japan.
Osaka Prefectural Institute of Public Health, Osaka, Japan.
National Institute of Infectious Diseases, Tokyo, Japan



Antimicrobial resistance in Neisseria gonorrhoeae is a major public health concern globally. We report the first verified treatment failure of gonorrhoea with 2 g of azithromycin (extended-release formulation) in Japan and characteristics of the corresponding N. gonorrhoeae isolates.


Pre- and post-treatment isolates (n = 4) were investigated by Etest for antimicrobial susceptibility. The isolates were examined for molecular epidemiology by multilocus sequence typing (MLST), N. gonorrhoeae multi-antigen sequence typing (NG-MAST) and multiple-locus variable-number tandem repeat analysis (MLVA), and for the presence of azithromycin resistance determinants (23S rRNA gene mutations, erm genes and mtrR mutations).


All isolates were resistant to azithromycin (MIC 4 mg/L) and ciprofloxacin, but remained susceptible to cefixime, ceftriaxone and spectinomycin. All isolates were assigned to MLST ST1901 and NG-MAST ST1407 and three of four isolates possessed MLVA profile 8-3-21-16-1. All isolates contained the previously described C2599T mutation (N. gonorrhoeae numbering) in all four 23S rRNA alleles and the previously described single-nucleotide (A) deletion in the mtrR promoter region.


This verified treatment failure occurred in a patient infected with an MLST ST1901/NG-MAST ST1407 strain of N. gonorrhoeae. While this international strain commonly shows resistance or decreased susceptibility to multiple antimicrobials, including extended-spectrum cephalosporins, the strain reported here remained fully susceptible to the latter antimicrobials. Hence, two subtypes of azithromycin-resistant gonococcal MLST ST1901/NG-MAST ST1407 appear to have evolved and to be circulating in Japan. Azithromycin should not be recommended as a single antimicrobial for first-line empirical treatment of gonorrhoea.


23S rRNA; N. gonorrhoeae; N. gonorrhoeae multi-antigen sequence typing; NG-MAST; antimicrobial resistance; test of cure

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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