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Clin Infect Dis. 1998 Jun;26(6):1341-5.

Why have group A streptococci remained susceptible to penicillin? Report on a symposium.

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Merck & Co., Inc., West Point, Pennsylvania 19486, USA.


In spite of 50 years of extensive use of penicillin, group A streptococci remain exquisitely susceptible to this antibiotic. This observation that continuing susceptibility has occurred despite the development of resistance to other antimicrobial agents prompted a day-long meeting at Rockefeller University (New York) in October 1996. Among the most likely explanations for this remarkable state of continued susceptibility to penicillin are that beta-lactamase may not be expressed or may be toxic to the organism and/or that low-affinity penicillin-binding proteins either are not expressed or render organisms nonviable. Other potential explanations are that circumstances favorable for the development of resistance have not yet occurred and/or that there are inefficient mechanisms for or barriers to genetic transfer. Recommended future actions include (1) additional laboratory investigations of gene transfer, penicillin-binding proteins, virulence factors, and homeologous recombination and mismatch repair; (2) increased surveillance for the development of penicillin resistance; (3) application of bioinformatics to analyze streptococcal genome sequences; and (4) development of vaccines and novel antimicrobial agents. Thus far the susceptibility of group A streptococci to penicillin has not been a major clinical or epidemiological problem. A similar observation, however, could have been made decades ago about Streptococcus pneumoniae. It is therefore vital for the scientific community to closely examine why penicillin has remained uniformly highly active against group A streptococci in order to maintain this desirable state.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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