Multiclonal Expansion and High Prevalence of β-Lactamase-Negative Haemophilus influenzae with High-Level Ampicillin Resistance in Japan and Susceptibility to Quinolones

Antimicrob Agents Chemother. 2018 Aug 27;62(9):e00851-18. doi: 10.1128/AAC.00851-18. Print 2018 Sep.


β-Lactam-resistant Haemophilus influenzae is a clinical concern. A high prevalence (>40%) of β-lactamase-negative high-level ampicillin-resistant H. influenzae (high-BLNAR) isolates in Japan has been reported. However, the reasons for the expansion are unknown. High-BLNAR strains possess an amino acid substitution, either Asn526Lys (group III) or Arg517His (group III-like) in addition to Ser385Thr, in penicillin-binding protein 3 (PBP3). To determine the current prevalence of high-BLNAR strains and the mechanisms behind their expansion in Japan, their prevalence, PBP3 types, multilocus sequence types, and susceptibilities to quinolones approved in Japan as alternatives were determined. Sixty percent of H. influenzae clinical isolates (62/104 isolates) were β-lactamase-negative ampicillin-resistant H. influenzae (BLNAR) strains. Among BLNAR isolates, 92% (57/62 isolates) were high-BLNAR strains. Most isolates were classified as belonging to group III, which contained many genotypes (11 PBP3 types and 25 sequence types). These results indicated that the expansion of high-BLNAR isolates was multiclonal and such strains are still predominant in Japanese clinical settings. One high-BLNAR isolate harbored the novel amino acid substitution Asn526Met in addition to Ser385Thr in PBP3, suggesting a new group (group IV). No quinolone-resistant H. influenzae isolates were identified. The MICs for the quinolones (moxifloxacin, garenoxacin, and tosufloxacin) were similar to that for levofloxacin, whereas sitafloxacin exhibited a lower MIC. However, we obtained 4 H. influenzae isolates with decreased quinolone susceptibility with the amino acid substitution Ser84Leu in GyrA, and 3 of those isolates were high-BLNAR isolates. In summary, this study shows that multiclonal high-BLNAR strains predominate in a Japanese university hospital. Isolates remain sensitive to quinolones, but vigilance is required to prevent the development of fluoroquinolone resistance in high-BLNAR strains.

Keywords: Haemophilus influenzae; antimicrobial resistance; penicillin-binding proteins.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Substitution / genetics
  • Ampicillin / pharmacology*
  • Ampicillin Resistance / genetics*
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / pharmacology*
  • Haemophilus influenzae / drug effects*
  • Haemophilus influenzae / genetics*
  • Haemophilus influenzae / isolation & purification
  • Humans
  • Japan
  • Microbial Sensitivity Tests
  • Quinolones / pharmacology*
  • beta-Lactamases / genetics*


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Quinolones
  • Ampicillin
  • beta-Lactamases