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J Antimicrob Chemother. 1996 Jan;37(1):33-44.

The 'hidden' carbapenemase of Aeromonas hydrophila.

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Department of Medical Microbiology, Medical School, University of Edinburgh, UK.


It has been presumed that there are just two beta-lactamases in the motile Aeromonas species, a carbapenemase and a cephalosporinase, based on the premise that all beta-lactamases can be detected by hydrolysis of the chromogenic cephalosporin, nitrocefin. However, when it was recently found that a non-motile species of Aeromonas that causes furunculosis in salmon, contained three beta-lactamases, one of which was a carbapenemase which could not be detected with nitrocefin, it was hypothesised that genetic exchange could occur between fish pathogens and human pathogens resulting in the transfer of the carbapenemase-encoding gene. This could have a potentially serious impact on intensive therapy units where carbapenems are employed. The purpose of this study was to determine whether the human pathogen Aeromonas hydrophila demonstrated the same beta-lactamase profile. After anion and cation exchange chromatography had been employed to separate the beta-lactamases of a clinical strain of A. hydrophila, three different beta-lactamases were found, one of which is a carbapenemase which does not hydrolyse nitrocefin. It is, therefore, probable that many strains of Aeromonas spp. contain a similar array of beta-lactamases which include a carbapenemase that cannot be detected with nitrocefin. Similar carbapenemases may well remain hidden in other species of bacteria unless appropriate techniques to detect the enzymes are employed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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