Antibiotic administration disrupts the intestinal microbiota, increasing susceptibility to pathogens such as Clostridium difficile. Metronidazole or oral vancomycin can cure C. difficile infection, and administration of these agents to prevent C. difficile infection in high-risk patients, although not sanctioned by Infectious Disease Society of America guidelines, has been considered. The relative impacts of metronidazole and vancomycin on the intestinal microbiota and colonization resistance are unknown. We investigated the effect of brief treatment with metronidazole and/or oral vancomycin on susceptibility to C. difficile, vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus, carbapenem-resistant Klebsiella pneumoniae, and Escherichia coli infection in mice. Although metronidazole resulted in transient loss of colonization resistance, oral vancomycin markedly disrupted the microbiota, leading to prolonged loss of colonization resistance to C. difficile infection and dense colonization by vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus, K. pneumoniae, and E. coli. Our results demonstrate that vancomycin, and to a lesser extent metronidazole, are associated with marked intestinal microbiota destruction and greater risk of colonization by nosocomial pathogens.
Keywords: Clostridium difficile; colonization resistance; metronidazole; microbiota; vancomycin.
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