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Antimicrobial Resistant Escherichia coli Strains Isolated From Food Animals in Pakistan.

Byline: Muhammad Idrees, Muhammad Ali Shah, Shazia Michael, Raheel Qamar and Habib Bokhari - Email: habib@comsats.edu.pk

Abstract

Antimicrobial resistance among Enterobacteriaceae is an increasing problem in human and veterinary medicine. Resistance profile of Sulphamethoxazole-Trimethoprim combination, Trimethoprim alone, Ciprofloxacin, Nalidixic acid, Cefotaxime, Ceftazedime, Ampicillin and Nitrofurantoin was investigated among E. coli isolates on the basis of phenotypic and genotypic evaluation of Escherichia coli isolates from food animals. The results showed that E. coli isolates resistant to Sulphamethoxazole-Trimethoprim were associated with class I integron of characteristic sizes. In addition the prevalence of antimicrobial resistance genotypes sul 1 and sul2 was studied in Sulphamethoxazole-Trimethoprim resistant isolates from food animals. Prevalence of class 1 Integrons, sul1 and sul2 in resistant commensal E. coli isolates of food animals is a serious public health concern. The changing spectrums of microorganisms in terms of their antibiotic resistance patterns require continuous monitoring of the environment.

Key words: Escherichia coli, integrons, antimicrobial resistance, chicken, buffalo.

INTRODUCTION

Escherichia coli (E. coli) like many other bacteria are normal commensal of the warm blooded animals as well as it is a pathogen which causes several types of infections. Among these commensals E. coli constitutes an enormous potential reservoir of resistance genes for pathogenic bacteria (Turnidge, 2004; Jakobsen et al., 2010). The prevalence of resistance among commensals of food animals may reflect the selective pressure of antimicrobial usage and is a potential indicator of resistance in future infections (Anderson et al., 2003) . The abundance of E. coli in different host species including man, cattle, and poultry, implicates them as likely candidates for the spread of resistance genes and vectors between the bacterial populations of animals and humans (O'Brien, 2002). The largest reservoir of antimicrobial resistance has been thought to reside in the commensal gut microbiota (McDonald et al., 2001).

One of the major causes of the spread and transmission of the antibiotic resistance is the transferof drug resistance from one to other bacteria of the same or different species, within the same host or the different hosts. This transfer of antibiotic resistance genes is facilitated to a great extends through the presence of integrons and plasmids in bacterial communities (Livermore, 2003).

E. coli has been shown to be prolific in the environment as a result of faecal contamination and can survive for weeks in optimal conditions in the environment so the chances of spread of resistant E. coli strains from one host (donor) to the other (recipient) are high. The potential for transfer of antimicrobial resistance from enteric zoonotic bacteria of food animals to the human population is a cause of concern. Contact with food animals or their excreta or consumption of foods of animal origin has been suggested to be the main route of dissemination of resistance from food-producing animals into human populations (Helmuth and Hensel, 2004). Slaughtering is potentially the most important stage for bacterial contamination and as a result resistant isolates from the animal gut may readily contaminate carcasses (Aslam et al., 2003; Hassan et al., 2010).

Thus food of animal origin may serve as a vehicle to transport resistant bacteria and resistance genes between animals and humans since contamination of carasses with faecal flora inevitably occurs during slaughtering (van den Bogaard and Stobbergingh, 2000).

After successful transmission of drug resistant E. coli isolates from one host species to the other host species, it is possible to disseminate the antibiotic resistance genes by horizontal transfer which may lead to the rapid emergence of antibiotic resistance among clinical isolates of bacteria. The spread of resistance genes is greatly enhanced when they are a part of a mobile gene cassette, since this provides a chance for horizontal transfer by several mechanisms including integrons. Integron mediated antimicrobial resistance is a major mechanism for transfer of resistance traits within both Gram-negative and Gram-positive bacteria (O'Brien, 2002; Leverstein-van Hall et al., 2002).

Integrons have been found to harbor the majority of resistance genes within the mobile resistance elements (transposons and plasmids), which allow for transfer of resistance and multi-resistance between bacteria which may include resistance transfer from animal to human microbiota (Leverstein-van Hall, 2002; Guardabassi et al, 2004).

E. coli is considered an indicator of faecal contamination in food and water. The prevalence of resistance in commensal E. coli of food animals is a good indicator for the selective pressure by antibiotics use and resistance problems to be expected in pathogenic bacteria. In food animals, a low prevalence and degree of antibiotic resistance in the intestinal flora is considered as a distinguishing quality and safety mark (van den Bogaard and Stobberingh, 2000). Faecal contamination of water is considered a human health risk and there has always been a great deal of concern regarding the level of coliform bacterial counts in water. The sources of these coliforms are thought to be faecal contamination from humans, domestic animals and wildlife in addition to runoff from agricultural lands, inadequate septic systems or sewer overflow (Catry et al., 2003).

Despite the detailed understanding of zoonotic transmission of E. coli, there is a paucity of information on how widespread multidrug resistant faecal isolatesare in food animals of Pakistan. In an effort to understand the level of risk to the community, we investigated the drug resistance profiles and detected the presence of integrons and related drug resistance genes in commensal E. coli of chicken and buffaloes, the most consumed food animals in Pakistan, as a possible risk factor for the community via environmental contamination or through direct contact.

MATERIALS AND METHODS

Bacterial isolates and Antimicrobial resistance The study population was composed of 121 Food animals (63 chicken and 58 buffaloes) . One buffalo from one herd was randomly selected. Fresh faecal samples were taken using sterile tongue depressors from each animal (buffaloes). Fresh cloacae swabs were collected from chicken (each one randomly selected from separate poultry shops) using sterile swab sticks. Samples were brought back in laboratory in Cary-Blair transport medium and processed onto nutrient agar for growth and Gram negative rods were subsequently streaked on MacConkey agar by using a sterile inoculating loop and the plates were incubated at 37oC for 24 hours. Identification of E. coli isolates was performed by standard biochemical methods (Ewing, 1986).

Susceptibility to Sulphamethoxazole-Trimethoprim combination (SXT: 25 ug), Trimethoprim alone (W: 2.5 ug), Ciprofloxacin (CIP: 10 ug), Nalidixic acid (NAL: 30 ug), Cefotaxime (CTX: 30 ug), Ceftazedime (CAZ: 30 ug), Ampicillin (AMP: 25 ug) and Nitrofurantoin (F: 50 ug) was determined using standard disc diffusion method in accordance with Clinical and Laboratory Standard Institute recommendations (CLSI, 2007). All antimicrobial discs were obtained commercially (Oxoid, UK). Each unique resistance pattern was assigned a resistotype number. Frequencies of each resistotype were determined.

PCR method Total genomic DNA templates of E. coli isolates were extracted by Phenol- Chloroform extraction method. All isolates found to be resistant to Sulphamethoxazole-Trimethoprim were screened for the presence of integrons, sul1 and sul2. Sulphamethoxazole resistance determinants sul1 and sul2 were identified by PCR amplification using gene specific primers (Invitrogen, Carlsbad, USA). The amplification of sul1 was performed using the forward primer sul1F (5'-CTTCGATGAGAGCCGGCGGC-3') and reverse primer sul1R (5'-GCAAGGCGGAAACCCGCGCC-3'). Amplification of sul2 was done by using the forward primer sul2-F (5'-GCGCTCAAGGCAGATGGCATT-3') and th reverse primer sul2-R (5'-GCGTTTGATACCGGCACCCGT-3') (Blahna et al., 2006).

Screening for the presence of class 1, 2 and 3 integrons (int1, int2, int3) was done with the help of PCR-RFLP method (White et al., 2001). The sequences of the degenerate primers to hybridize to conserved regions of integron encoded integrase genes were as follows: hep35 (5'-TGCGGGTYAARGATBTKGATTT-3') and hep36 (5'- CARCACATGCGTRTARAT-3'), while B = C or G or T; K = G or T; R = A or G; and Y = C or T. Integrase PCR products were digested using Hinf1 restriction enzyme according to the manufacturer's instructions (Fermentas). Classification of integrons was done on the bases of the size of restricted fragments after treatment of hep amplified products with Hinf1 (491bp fragment for class 1 integrons, 300 bp and 191 bp fragments for class 2 integrons, while 119 bp and 372 bp fragments for class 3 integrons) (White et al., 2001).

PCR amplifications were carried out in 50 ul reaction mixtures containing 5 ul DNA templates, 50 pmol of each primer, 1.5 mM MgCl2, 0.2mM of dNTPs and 2.5U Taq polymerase. Thermal cycle reaction conditions for all primer pairs were as follows: 94 oC for 5 minutes; 30 cycles of denaturation at 94 oC for 40 seconds, annealing at 55 oC for 40 seconds, and extension at 72 oC for 1 minute. A final extension of 72 oC was run for 7 minutes.

Statistical analysis A logistic regression analysis was performed on isolates to determine which resistance phenotypes are independent of other resistance phenotypes associated with the presence of an integron. The Bonferroni correction was applied and the p-value less than 0.006 was considered significant.

RESULTS AND DISCUSSION

A total of 121 E. coli non-repetitive isolates (58 isolates from buffaloes, and 63 isolates from chicken) were screened for evaluation of their antimicrobial sensitivities. It is apparent from the results that reasonable proportion of the isolates has shown resistance to one or other antibiotic tested (Table I). In addition these isolates were grouped into seventeen categories, according to the occurrence of different individual antibiotics resistances as well as co-occurrence of combination of different resistance phenotypes (Table II). The differences observed in the case of sensitivity patterns of E. coli isolates from the buffalo and poultry are apparent from the descending order of resistance in poultry isolates (W greater than SXT = NAL greater than CIP = AMP greater than F greater than CTX = CAZ) as compared to the descending order of resistance in buffalo isolates (SXT = W greater than F = AMP greater than NAL greater than CTX greater than CIP greater than CAZ).

Sulphamethoxazole and Trimethoprim are the antibiotics to which largest number of E. coli isolates from Poultry and Buffaloes were resistant. These isolates were more sensitive to Ceftazedime and Cefotaxime than other drugs to which the sensitivity patterns were observed.

Table I.- Resistance phenotypes in 121 E. coli isolates from buffaloes (n = 58) and poultry (n = 63) faecal samples.

Antimicrobials tested###Resistant isolates (%)

###Poultry###Buffalo

###(n = 63)###(n = 58)

Sulphamethoxazole - Trimethoprim###84 %###28 %

Trimethoprim###88 %###28 %

Ciprofloxacin###44 %###8 %

Nalidixic acid###84 %###20 %

Cefotaxime###16 %###16 %

Ceftazedime###16 %###4 %

Ampicillin###44 %###24 %

Nitrofurantoin###28 %###24 %

We observed that buffalo isolates are more sensitive to the antibiotics as compared to the poultry isolates. This is perhaps due to frequent use of antibiotics in the chicken as feed additives to serve as growth promoters (Diarra et al., 2007). Resistant strains of E. coli can settle in the intestinal flora of the chickens even in the absence of the selective pressure of antibiotics (Guillot and Boucaud, 1988). The buffaloes under this study were not exposed to the antibiotics as they consumed the natural fodder and grass and did not consume any antibiotic as feed additive or as a growth promoter. However, a considerable number of drug resistant isolates were detected from the buffalo faeces which may reflect the ingestion of drug resistant bacteria from streams, ingestion of antibiotic traces from streams may have lead to selective pressure (Guardabassi et al., 2004; Samara et al., 2009) and the ultimate emergence of antibiotic resistance.

Table II.- Various antimicrobial resistance patterns i121 E. coli isolates from buffaloes (n = 58) and poultry (n = 63) faecal samples.

Resisto-###Antibiotics to which###Poultry###Buffalo

type ####resistance observeda###(n = 63)###(n = 58)

I###Cs###8%###49%

II###CTX###0%###3%

III###F###0%###8%

IV###NAL###0%###5%

V###SXT###0%###4%

VI###W###0%###4%

VII###AMP, F###0%###3%

VIII###SXT, W, NAL###39%###2%

IX###CTX, W, AMP, F###4%###0%

X###CTX, SXT, W, AMP###0%###6%

XI###CTX, NAL, CAZ, F###4%###0%

XII###SXT, W, AMP, CAZ###6%###4%

XIII###SXT, W, AMP, NAL###20%###0%

XIV###SXT, W, AMP, NAL, F###7%###3%

XV###CTX, SXT, W, AMP,###3%###9%

XVI###NAL, F###5%###0%

XVII###CTX, SXT, W. NAL,###4%###0%

###CAZ, F###

###SXT, W, AMP, NAL,###

###CAZ, F###

Abbreviation: SXT, Sulphamethoxazole-Trimethoprim; CTX, Cefotaxime; CIP, Ciprofloxacin; W, Trimethoprim, AMP, Ampicillin; NAL, Nalidixic acid; CAZ, Ceftazedime; F, Nitrofurantoin; Cs , Sensitive to all antibiotics tested detected in 9 (56%) of these 16 Sulphamethoxazole-Trimethoprim resistant isolates. Although there were some minor differences in prevalence of class 1 Integron, sul1 and sul2 between the Sulphamethoxazole-Trimethoprim resistant isolates from poultry and buffaloes (Table III), however the co-occurrence patterns of these markers showed some resemblances especially in case of sul2 (Table IV).

Table III.- Occurrence of antimicrobial resist markers int1, sul1, sul2 in 69 Sulphamethoxazole-Trimethoprim resistant E. coli isolates.

Origin of resistant###Presence of antimicrobial

isolates###resistance markers###

###Int1###Int2###Int3###sul1###sul2

Poultry (n=53)###38%###2%###0%###47%###60%###

Buffaloes (n=16)###25%###0%###0%###25%###56%###

Table IV.- Association of class 1 Integron with sul1 and sul2 among 69 Sulphamethoxazole- Trimethoprim resistant E. coli isolates.###

Combinations of genotypes###Poultry###Buffalo###

###(n = 53)###(n = 16)

Int1 alone###0%###0%###

Int1 + sul1 combination###14%###0%###

Int1 + sul1 + sul2 combination###24%###25%###

sul1 alone###4%###0%###

sul2 alone###31%###31%###

sul1+ sul2 combination###5%###0%###

Int2###2%###0%###

Int3###0%###0%###

The Sulphamethoxazole-Trimethoprim resistant isolates were screened for the presence of Integrons and the related genes (sul1, sul2) (Tables III, IV; Fig. 1). Out of 63 E. coli isolates from poultry, 53 (84%) were resistant to Sulphamethoxazole-Trimethoprim. Among these 53 Sulphamethoxazole-Trimethoprim resistant isolates, int1 was detected in 20 (38%), int2 in 1 (2%), sul1 in 25 (47%), and sul2 was detected in 32 (60%) isolates.

Sixteen (28%) of 58 E. coli isolates from buffalo were found to be resistant to Sulphamethoxazole-Trimethoprim. Integron-1 was detected in 4 (25%), sul1 in 4 (25%) and sul2 was Logistic regression analysis have shown that in case of poultry isolates, Sulphamethoxazole-Trimethoprim resistance phenotype is associated positively with each of Trimethoprim, Ampicillin and Nalidixic acid resistance phenotypes with the presence of integron while other phenotypes are negatively associated as shown in Table V. Similarly in case of Trimethoprim resistant cases Sulphamethoxazole-Trimethoprim, Nalidixic acid, and Ampicillin resistance in the presence of integron was increased and vice versa is observed. On the other hand while in the presence of integrons all the antimicrobial resistance phenotypes studied were independent of each other in E. coli isolates from buffalo samples (Table VI).

Table V.- Associations between antimicrobial resistance phenotypes with the presence of class 1 Integron in E. coli isolates from poultry faecal samples (n = 63).

###Variable###OR###(95% CI)###P-value###

Outcome###Predictor###

SXT###CTX + int1###78.18###20.74-327.84###less than 0.001###

###W + int1###11.4###4.48-29.73###less than 0.001###

###AMP + int1###20.38###7.55-56.97###less than 0.001###

###NAL + int1###13.25###5.15-35.04###less than 0.001###

###CAZ + int1###50.35###15.45-175.62###less than 0.001###

###F + int1###31.8###10.92-97.06###less than 0.001###

CTX###SXT + int1###2.78###0.74-11.29###0.08###

###AMP + int1###5.75###1.11-39.93###0.01###

W###SXT + int1###14.78###5.49-41.19###less than 0.001###

###CTX + int1###101.41###25.65-450.27###less than 0.001###

###AMP + int1###26.44###9.27-78.75###less than 0.001###

###NAL + int1###17.19###6.31-48.52###less than 0.001###

###CAZ + int1###65.31###19.06-242.27###less than 0.001###

###F + int1###41.25###13.43-134.02###less than 0.001

AMP###SXT + int1###3.08###1.31-7.31###0.004###

###CTX + int1###24.4###5.16-157.97###less than 0.001###

###W + int1###3.08###1.31-7.31###0.004###

###NAL + int1###3.78###1.56-9.34###0.001###

###CAZ + int1###11.8###3.53-43.54###less than 0.001###

###F + int1###6.4###2.34-18.15###less than 0.001###

NAL###SXT + int1###1###0.43-2.32###1###

###CTX + int1###5.9###1.71-22.29###0.001###

###AMP + int1###1.89###0.75-4.82###0.13###

###F + int1###2.4###0.91-6.46###0.05###

CAZ###SXT + int1###1.79###0.55-6.02###0.28###

###CTX + int1###5.75###1.11-39.93###0.01###

###AMP + int1###2.78###0.74-11.29###0.08###

F###SXT + int1###2.4###0.91-6.46###0.05###

###CTX + int1###5.9###1.71-22.29###0.001###

Our findings support the previous findings of the several studies in Europe and other countries which have also shown that bacteria, including E. coli, from food animals may carry integrons (Goldstein, 2001; Maguire et al., 2001; Zhao et al., 2001; Adrienne et al., 2005; Song et al., 2010). Previous studies by several workers indicate that integrons harbor multiple of resistant genes at one time and they can transfer antimicrobial resistance from commensal to pathogenic strains (Goldstein, 2001; Maguire et al., 2001; Zhao et al., 2001; van Essen-Zandbergen et al., 2009) or pathogenic to commensal (Nagachinta and Chen, 2008).

Table VI.- Associations between antimicrobial resistance phenotypes with the presence of class 1 Integron in E. coli isolates from buffaloes' faecal samples (n = 58).

###Variable###OR###(95% CI)###P-value###

Outcome###Predictor###

SXT###CTX + int1###10.67###2.16-71.21###less than 0.001###

###W + int1###5.14###1.46-19.80###0.003###

###AMP + int1###6.98###1.75-32.43###0.001###

###NAL + int1###6.98###1.75-32.43###0.001###

CTX###SXT + int1###5.14###0.96-36.33###0.02###

###AMP + int1###10.47###1.28-228.39###0.008###

W###SXT + int1###5.14###1.46-19.80###0.003###

###CTX + int1###10.67###2.16-71.21###less than 0.001###

###AMP + int1###6.98###1.75-32.43###0.001###

AMP###SXT + int1###5.83###1.44-27.42###0.003###

###CTX + int1###8.91###1.78-60.08###0.001###

NAL###SXT + int1###4.78###1.15-22.86###0.01###

###CTX + int1###14.87###1.88-317.36###0.001###

###AMP + int1###7.3###1.43-49.94###0.004###

F###SXT + int1###8.91###1.78-60.08###0.001###

###CTX + int1###18.14###2.34-383.55###less than 0.001###

The detection of integrons and related antibiotic resistance genes in this study indicates that there is serious risk of spread of the antibiotic resistance as the gene cassettes can be re-arranged and duplicated within the integrons and the resistance genes can also be transmitted to and/or from these resistant isolates (O'Brien, 2002; Leverstein-van Hall et al., 2002) which are present in both types of food animal species investigated in this study. Integrons represent a significant mechanism for transfer of resistance characteristics from commensal to pathogenic organisms, while integrons have been found to harbor multiple resistance genes at one time (Goldstein, 2001; Maguire et al., 2001; Zhao et al., 2001) and it is evident that within the Gram-negative bacteria, a substantial portion of the resistance genes present on plasmids and transposons are incorporated into Class 1 integrons (Leverstein-van Hall et al., 2002).

Moreover, the detection of integrons and the related antimicrobial resistance genes in non-pathogenic E. coli from animals (buffaloes and chicken) in this study may represent a considerable reservoir of antibiotic resistance genes that might be transferable to pathogens (Sunde et al., 1998; Sunde and Sorum, 1999; Summers, 2002).

Contact with food animals or their excreta or consumption of foods of animal origin has been suggested to be the main route of dissemination of resistance from food-producing animals into human populations (Helmuth and Hensel 2004; Hassan et al., 2010) . Food of animal origin may serve as a vehicle to transport resistant bacteria and resistance genes between animals and humans (van den Bogaard and Stobberingh, 2000). The prevalence of such multiple resistant E. coli in large proportion is a serious concern and transmission mode may include direct contact with live animals, their environment or exposure to contaminated water sources (Manges et al., 2007).

Moreover, the prevalence of resistance in commensal E. coli in this study is an indicator for the presence of selective pressure by antibiotics use. A high prevalence of antibiotic resistance in the E. coli isolates of the food animals (buffaloes and chicken) The presence of various antibiotics resistance in a variety of bacterial species from animal sources supports their global distribution and that cross-species transfer via mobile genetic elements may occur frequently as shown by recent study (Pak-Leung et al., 2010).

CONCLUSIONS

In short, it is evident from the results of this study that the E. coli isolates of buffalo and poultry origin are highly resistant. In addition the co-occurrence of various antibiotics resistance in such E. coli isolates which are circulating in environment, are posing a serious risk to the human health. Moreover, these isolates carry integron-1, sul1, sul2, and there is a real chance of spread and transmission of highly resistant bacteria as well as the gene cassettes encoding resistance phenotypes from one organism to other organism either commensal or pathogenic by lateral gene transfer.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

H. Bokhari is grateful to COMSATS Institute of Information Technology and Higher Education Commission of Pakistan (HEC), Islamabad, Pakistan for providing research facility and support to carry out this work.

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(Received 30 March 2010, revised 29 July 2010)

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Publication:Pakistan Journal of Zoology
Article Type:Report
Geographic Code:9PAKI
Date:Apr 30, 2011
Words:4574
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