Factors affecting the reversal of antimicrobial-drug resistance

Lancet Infect Dis. 2009 Jun;9(6):357-64. doi: 10.1016/S1473-3099(09)70105-7.


The persistence or loss of acquired antimicrobial-drug resistance in bacterial populations previously exposed to drug-selective pressure depends on several biological processes. We review mechanisms promoting or preventing the loss of resistance, including rates of reacquisition, effects of resistance traits on bacterial fitness, linked selection, and segregational stability of resistance determinants. As a case study, we discuss the persistence of glycopeptide-resistant enterococci in Norwegian and Danish poultry farms 12 years after the ban of the animal growth promoter avoparcin. We conclude that complete eradication of antimicrobial resistance in bacterial populations following relaxed drug-selective pressures is not straightforward. Resistance determinants may persist at low, but detectable, levels for many years in the absence of the corresponding drugs.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animal Husbandry
  • Animals
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / adverse effects
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / metabolism
  • Drug Resistance, Multiple, Bacterial / drug effects
  • Drug Resistance, Multiple, Bacterial / genetics*
  • Enterococcus faecium / drug effects
  • Glycopeptides / adverse effects
  • Glycopeptides / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Poultry
  • Poultry Diseases / drug therapy*
  • Selection, Genetic*


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Glycopeptides
  • avoparcin