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Int J Antimicrob Agents. 2016 Nov;48(5):521-527. doi: 10.1016/j.ijantimicag.2016.07.020. Epub 2016 Sep 12.

Combination antimicrobial susceptibility testing of Burkholderia cepacia complex: significance of species.

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Department of Medical Microbiology, Aberdeen Royal Infirmary, Aberdeen, UK. Electronic address:
Department of Medical Microbiology, Aberdeen Royal Infirmary, Aberdeen, UK.
Aberdeen Proteomics, Rowett Institute of Nutrition and Health, University of Aberdeen, Foresterhill, Aberdeen, UK.


The Burkholderia cepacia complex (Bcc) is notorious for the life-threatening pulmonary infections it causes in patients with cystic fibrosis. The multidrug-resistant nature of Bcc and differing infective Bcc species make the design of appropriate treatment regimens challenging. Previous synergy studies have failed to take account of the species of Bcc isolates. Etest methodology was used to facilitate minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC) and antimicrobial combination testing on 258 isolates of Bcc, identified to species level by matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionisation time-of-flight mass spectrometry (MALDI-TOF/MS). The most active antimicrobials were trimethoprim/sulphamethoxazole, doxycycline and minocycline (52.5%, 46.4% and 45.9% of isolates susceptible, respectively). Synergy was observed in 9.2% of the 1799 combinations tested; the most common synergistic combinations were tobramycin + ceftazidime, meropenem + tobramycin and levofloxacin + piperacillin/tazobactam (35.4%, 32.3% and 22.2% synergy, respectively). Antimicrobial susceptibility analysis revealed differences between Burkholderia cenocepacia and Burkholderia multivorans. Disparity in clinical outcome during infection with these two micro-organisms necessitates further investigation into the clinical outcomes of treatment regimens in light of species identification and in vitro antimicrobial susceptibility studies.


Antimicrobial susceptibility testing; B. cenocepacia; B. multivorans; Burkholderia cepacia complex; Etest; Synergy testing

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