Previous research shows that approximately half of the coagulase-negative staphylococci (CNS) isolated from patients in the intensive care unit (ICU) at Belfast City Hospital were resistant to methicillin. The presence of this relatively high proportion of methicillin-resistance genetic material gives rise to speculation that these organisms may act as potential reservoirs of methicillinresistance genetic material to methicillin-sensitive Staphylococcus aureus (MSSA). Mechanisms of horizontal gene transfer from PBP2a-positive CNS to MSSA, potentially transforming MSSA to MRSA, aided by electroporation-type activities such as transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS), should be considered. Methicillin-resistant CNS (MR-CNS) isolates are collected over a two-month period from a variety of clinical specimen types, particularly wound swabs. The species of all isolates are confirmed, as well as their resistance to oxacillin by standard disc diffusion assays. In addition, MSSA isolates are collected over the same period and confirmed as PBP2a-negative. Electroporation experiments are designed to mimic the time/voltage combinations used commonly in the clinical application of TENS. No transformed MRSA were isolated and all viable S. aureus cells remained susceptible to oxacillin and PBP2a-negative. Experiments using MSSA pre-exposed to sublethal concentrations of oxacillin (0.25 µg/mL) showed no evidence of methicillin gene transfer and the generation of an MRSA. The study showed no evidence of horizontal transfer of methicillin resistance genetic material from MR-CNS to MSSA. These data support the belief that TENS and the associated time/voltage combinations used do not increase conjugational transposons or facilitate horizontal gene transfer from MR-CNS to MSSA.
|Number of pages
|British Journal of Biomedical Science
|Published - Jan 2007