Objective: To investigate clonal relationships in a nationwide sample of human Enterococcus faecium isolates.
Methods: Biochemical fingerprinting (PhP (PhenePlate) typing) was used to compare 180 fecal ampicillin-resistant E. faecium (ARE) isolates with 169 matched fecal ampicillin-susceptible E. faecium (ASE) isolates from patients in 23 hospitals, collected in 1998, and to study 39 fecal ARE isolates from non-hospitalized individuals collected in 1998, and five ARE and 29 ASE isolates from the early 1990s. Representative ARE and ASE isolates were subjected to pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) analysis of genomic DNA and sequencing of the regions encoding the fluoroquinolone targets of the enzymes GyrA and ParC.
Results: Both PhP and PFGE results showed a higher homogeneity among ARE than among ASE isolates (P < 0.001). One PhP type (FMSE1) comprised 73% of the hospital ARE isolates (53% of ARE isolates from non-hospitalized individuals, and four of five ARE isolates from the early 1990s), but only 1% of the ASE isolates. PFGE of the hospital E. faecium isolates revealed that 23 of the 25 ARE isolates and one of the 22 ASE isolates were of one dominating type. High-level resistance to ciprofloxacin (MIC > 16 mg/L) was present in 91% of ARE isolates, whereas only low-level resistance (MIC 4-16 mg/L; 35% of isolates) was found among ASE isolates. One mutation in parC (codon 80) and one of two mutations in gyrA (codons 83 or 87) were detected in all ARE isolates tested with high-level ciprofloxacin resistance, but were lacking in ARE and ASE isolates with low-level ciprofloxacin resistance.
Conclusion: Most ARE isolates in Sweden were clonally related. High-level ciprofloxacin resistance was found in ARE isolates of PhP type FMSE1 as well as in other PhP types, but never in ASE isolates.