Clinical significance of overexpression of multiple RND-family efflux pumps in Bacteroides fragilis isolates

J Antimicrob Chemother. 2006 Sep;58(3):543-8. doi: 10.1093/jac/dkl278. Epub 2006 Jul 12.


Objectives: The aim of the present study was to determine correlation between bmeB efflux pump overexpression and resistance to fluoroquinolones and beta-lactams in Bacteroides fragilis clinical isolates (n = 51) and the effects of broad-spectrum efflux pump inhibitors (EPIs) on the MICs of the test antibiotics.

Methods: Susceptibility to garenoxacin, levofloxacin, moxifloxacin, cefoxitin and faropenem +/- EPIs (CCCP, MC-207,110, reserpine and verapamil) was determined. Expression of bmeB efflux pumps was measured, topoisomerase genes were sequenced and beta-lactamase production was determined.

Results: Isolates were grouped into categories based on susceptibility patterns, topoisomerase sequence and efflux pump expression. Panel I isolates (19/51, 37.3%) were highly resistant to fluoroquinolones and cefoxitin (resistance to all agents was significantly reduced by EPIs, P < 0.05), had a point mutation in gyrA (C-->T) causing a Ser-82-->Phe substitution, and overexpressed bmeB4 and bmeB15. Panel II isolates (7/51; 13.7%) had intermediate-level resistance to fluoroquinolones and cefoxitin and a GyrA substitution. Panel IIIA isolates (21/51; 41.2%) had intermediate-level fluoroquinolone resistance and high-level cefoxitin resistance [resistance to all agents was significantly reduced by EPIs (P < 0.05)] and overexpressed bmeB4 and bmeB15. Panel IIIB isolates (4/51; 7.8%) had low-level fluoroquinolone resistance and high-level resistance to cefoxitin [cefoxitin resistance was significantly reduced by EPIs (P < 0.05)] and overexpressed bmeB4, bmeB6, bmeB10 and bmeB14. All isolates were beta-lactamase-positive.

Conclusions: These data suggest that bmeB efflux pump overexpression can (i) cause low- to intermediate-level clinically relevant fluoroquinolone resistance; (ii) be coupled with GyrA substitutions to cause high-level fluoroquinolone resistance; (iii) contribute to high-level clinically relevant resistance to beta-lactams.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / pharmacology*
  • Bacterial Proteins / genetics*
  • Bacteroides Infections / microbiology
  • Bacteroides fragilis* / drug effects
  • Bacteroides fragilis* / genetics
  • Bacteroides fragilis* / isolation & purification
  • Drug Resistance, Multiple, Bacterial
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Bacterial / drug effects*
  • Humans
  • Membrane Fusion Proteins / genetics*
  • Membrane Transport Proteins / genetics*
  • Microbial Sensitivity Tests
  • Mutation


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Membrane Fusion Proteins
  • Membrane Transport Proteins