Stress Responses as Determinants of Antimicrobial Resistance in Gram-negative Bacteria

Trends Microbiol. 2012 May;20(5):227-34. doi: 10.1016/j.tim.2012.02.004. Epub 2012 Mar 15.


Bacteria encounter a myriad of potentially growth-compromising conditions in nature and in hosts of pathogenic bacteria. These 'stresses' typically elicit protective and/or adaptive responses that serve to enhance bacterial survivability. Because they impact upon many of the same cellular components and processes that are targeted by antimicrobials, adaptive stress responses can influence antimicrobial susceptibility. In targeting and interfering with key cellular processes, antimicrobials themselves are 'stressors' to which protective stress responses have also evolved. Cellular responses to nutrient limitation (nutrient stress), oxidative and nitrosative stress, cell envelope damage (envelope stress), antimicrobial exposure and other growth-compromising stresses, have all been linked to the development of antimicrobial resistance in Gram-negative bacteria - resulting from the stimulation of protective changes to cell physiology, activation of resistance mechanisms, promotion of resistant lifestyles (biofilms), and induction of resistance mutations.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / pharmacology*
  • Biofilms / drug effects
  • Drug Resistance, Bacterial*
  • Gram-Negative Bacteria / drug effects*
  • Gram-Negative Bacteria / genetics
  • Gram-Negative Bacteria / physiology*
  • Gram-Negative Bacterial Infections / microbiology*
  • Humans


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents