Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Resistance to last-line antibiotic makes bacteria resistant to immune system

Date:
May 21, 2013
Source:
American Society for Microbiology
Summary:
Bacteria resistant to the antibiotic colistin are also commonly resistant to antimicrobial substances made by the human body, according to a new study. Cross-resistance to colistin and host antimicrobials LL-37 and lysozyme, which help defend the body against bacterial attack, could mean that patients with life-threatening multi-drug resistant infections are also saddled with a crippled immune response.

Bacteria resistant to the antibiotic colistin are also commonly resistant to antimicrobial substances made by the human body, according to a study in mBioฎ, the online open-access journal of the American Society for Microbiology. Cross-resistance to colistin and host antimicrobials LL-37 and lysozyme, which help defend the body against bacterial attack, could mean that patients with life-threatening multi-drug resistant infections are also saddled with a crippled immune response. Colistin is a last-line drug for treating several kinds of drug-resistant infections, but colistin resistance and the drug's newfound impacts on bacterial resistance to immune attack underscore the need for newer, better antibiotics.

Related Articles


Corresponding author David Weiss of Emory University says the results show that colistin therapy can fail patients in two ways. "The way that the bacteria become resistant [to colistin] allows them to also become resistant to the antimicrobials made by our immune system. That is definitely not what doctors want to do when they're treating patients with this last line antibiotic," says Weiss.

Although it was developed fifty years ago, colistin remains in use today not so much because it's particularly safe or effective, but because the choices for treating multi-drug resistant Acinetobacter baumannii and other resistant infections are few and dwindling. Colistin is used when all or almost all other drugs have failed, often representing a patient's last hope for survival.

Weiss says he and his colleagues noted that colistin works by disrupting the inner and outer membranes that hold Gram-negative bacterial cells together, much the same way two antimicrobials of the human immune system, LL-37 and lysozyme, do. LL-37 is a protein found at sites of inflammation, whereas lysozyme is found in numerous different immune cells and within secretions like tears, breast milk, and mucus, and both are important defenses against invading bacteria. Weiss and his collaborators from Emory, the CDC, Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, and Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta set out to find whether resistance to colistin could engender resistance to attack by LL-37 or lysozyme.

Looking at A. baumannii isolates from patients around the country, they noted that all the colistin-resistant strains harbored mutations in pmrB, a regulatory gene that leads to the modification of polysaccharides on the outside of the cell in response to antibiotic exposure. Tests showed a tight correlation between the ability of individual isolates to resist high concentrations of colistin and the ability to resist attacks by LL-37 or lysozyme.

This was very convincing, write the authors, that mutations in the pmrB gene were responsible for cross-resistance to LL-37 and lysozyme, but to get closer to a causative link between treatment and cross-resistance, they studied two pairs of A. baumannii isolates taken from two different patients before and after they were treated for three or six weeks with colistin. The results helped confirm the cross-resistance link: neither strain taken before treatment was resistant to colistin, LL-37, or lysozyme, but the strains taken after treatment showed significant resistance to colistin and lysozyme. (One post-colistin isolate was no more or less resistant to LL-37 than its paired pre-colistin isolate.) Like the resistant strains tested earlier, both post-colistin isolates harbored crucial mutations in the pmrB gene that apparently bestow the ability to resist treatment.

The authors point out that the apparent link between resistance to colistin and cross-resistance to antimicrobial agents of the immune system could well extend to other pathogens that are treated with colistin, including Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Klebsiella pneumoniae. Weiss says he plans to follow up with studies to determine whether this bears out.

For Weiss, the problems with colistin are symptomatic of a much larger trio of problems: increasing levels of drug resistance, cuts in federal funding for antibiotic research, and lack of incentives for pharmaceutical companies to invest in antibiotic R&D. "We don't have enough antibiotics, and it's really important for the research community and the public to support increases in funding for research to develop new antibiotics," says Weiss.

"We got complacent for a while and the bugs are becoming resistant. This is something we can reverse -- or make a lot better -- if we have the resources."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Society for Microbiology. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

American Society for Microbiology. "Resistance to last-line antibiotic makes bacteria resistant to immune system." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 21 May 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/05/130521011230.htm>.
American Society for Microbiology. (2013, May 21). Resistance to last-line antibiotic makes bacteria resistant to immune system. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/05/130521011230.htm
American Society for Microbiology. "Resistance to last-line antibiotic makes bacteria resistant to immune system." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/05/130521011230.htm (accessed November 24, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Monday, November 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Ebola-Hit Sierra Leone's Late Cocoa Leaves Bitter Taste

Ebola-Hit Sierra Leone's Late Cocoa Leaves Bitter Taste

AFP (Nov. 23, 2014) — The arable district of Kenema in Sierra Leone -- at the centre of the Ebola outbreak in May -- has been under quarantine for three months as the cocoa harvest comes in. Duration: 01:32 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Don't Fall For Flu Shot Myths

Don't Fall For Flu Shot Myths

Newsy (Nov. 23, 2014) — Misconceptions abound when it comes to your annual flu shot. Medical experts say most people older than 6 months should get the shot. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
WFP: Ebola Risks Heightened Among Women Throughout Africa

WFP: Ebola Risks Heightened Among Women Throughout Africa

AFP (Nov. 21, 2014) — Having children has always been a frightening prospect in Sierra Leone, the world's most dangerous place to give birth, but Ebola has presented an alarming new threat for expectant mothers. Duration: 00:37 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Your Genes Be The Reason You're Single?

Could Your Genes Be The Reason You're Single?

Newsy (Nov. 21, 2014) — Researchers in Beijing discovered a gene called 5-HTA1, and carriers are reportedly 20 percent more likely to be single. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins