Objectives: To determine the current frequency and study the characteristics of VIM-1-producing Klebsiella pneumoniae isolates from bloodstream infections in Greek hospitals.
Methods: All blood isolates of K. pneumoniae were prospectively collected during 2004-06 in three teaching hospitals located in Athens. MICs of antibiotics were determined by the Etest. Extended-spectrum- (ESBL) and metallo-beta-lactamase (MBL) production was examined by clavulanate- and EDTA-based techniques, respectively. Isolates were typed by PFGE of XbaI-digested genomic DNA. Detection of bla(VIM-1) and mapping of the VIM-1-encoding integrons were performed by PCR and sequencing. Beta-lactamase activities were analysed by IEF and imipenem hydrolysis was assessed by spectrophotometry. VIM-1-encoding plasmids were transferred to Escherichia coli by conjugation and transformation and characterized by Inc/rep typing and RFLP.
Results: Sixty-seven (37.6%) of 178 K. pneumoniae blood isolates were bla(VIM-1)-positive (VPKP); 77.8% of these were from ICUs. All VPKP isolates were multidrug-resistant. The MICs of carbapenems for VPKP varied from the susceptible range to high-level resistance overlapping with those of MBL-negative isolates. The EDTA-imipenem synergy methods had reduced sensitivity in detecting VPKP isolates when the MICs were in the susceptible range. ESBL production was common among VPKP isolates (n = 45, 67.2%) as indicated by resistance to aztreonam and confirmed by a clavulanate-based double-disc synergy test. The responsible ESBL was always an SHV-5-type enzyme as indicated by IEF. PFGE identified eight clusters (A-H) of VPKP isolates with related (>80%) patterns, as well as four unique types. Both inter-hospital spread of several clones and genotypic similarities among susceptible, ESBL-positive and VPKP isolates were also observed. Location of bla(VIM-1) and expression of VIM-1 were studied in 12 isolates representing the eight PFGE clusters. In all isolates, bla(VIM-1) was part of a class 1 integron that also carried aacA4, dhfrI, aadA and sulI. In eight isolates (clusters C, D, G and H), the bla(VIM-1) integron was located in transferable IncN plasmids. A cluster F isolate carried a VIM-1-encoding, self-transferable plasmid that was not typeable by Inc/rep typing. VIM-1-encodingreplicons were not identified in three isolates (PFGE clusters A, B and E). VPKP isolates exhibited differences in imipenem-hydrolysing activities which, however, were not correlated with the respective carbapenem MICs.
Conclusions: A multiclonal epidemic of bla(VIM-1)-carrying K. pneumoniae is under way in the majorhospitals in Greece. Microorganisms producing both VIM-1 and SHV-5 constitute the prevalent multidrug-resistant population of K. pneumoniae in this setting.