Genomic epidemiology and antimicrobial resistance determinants of Neisseria gonorrhoeae isolates from Ukraine, 2013-2018

APMIS. 2020 Jul;128(7):465-475. doi: 10.1111/apm.13060.


Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in Neisseria gonorrhoeae is a major health threat compromising the gonorrhoea treatment globally. AMR surveillance including whole genome sequencing (WGS)-based epidemiology provides ideal resolution to identify and describe AMR gonococcal clones, AMR determinants and populations, which can inform management guidelines and antimicrobial stewardship policies. Our aims were to, for the first time, elucidate the WGS-based epidemiology and characterize AMR determinants of gonococcal strains spreading in Ukraine, 2013-2018. Gonococcal isolates (n = 150) from Ternopil and Dnipro, Ukraine (2013-2018), were subjected to AMR testing (Etest) for eight antimicrobials and WGS. Overall, 11.3% of isolates were resistant to ciprofloxacin, 6.0% to tetracycline, and 0.7% to benzylpenicillin. No isolates were resistant to azithromycin, spectinomycin, ceftriaxone, or cefixime, but one isolate was bordering resistance to both cephalosporins. Twenty-five MLST STs, 50 NG-MAST STs, and 34 NG-STAR types were identified. The phylogenomic analysis revealed six main clusters, mostly associated with the internationally described multidrug-susceptible gonococcal lineage. Resistance to ciprofloxacin was associated with GyrA S91F and ParC S87R mutations; tetracyclines with rpsJ V57M and tetM; penicillins with mosaic penA-34.001 and β-lactamase; mtrR; PorB1b G101D, and PBP1 L421P mutations. One isolate of the multidrug-resistant NG-MAST ST1407, MLST ST1901 was found, which was bordering resistance to ceftriaxone and cefixime. The antimicrobial susceptibility of gonococcal strains spreading in Ternopil and Dnipro, Ukraine, in 2013-2018 was surprisingly high. Continued and expanded gonococcal AMR surveillance, ideally including WGS, in Ukraine is essential. This could inform action plans and public health policies to control the spread of AMR gonococcal strains in Ukraine.

Keywords: Whole genome sequencing; azithromycin; ceftriaxone; gonorrhoea; treatment.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Drug Resistance, Bacterial / genetics
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Microbial Sensitivity Tests
  • Middle Aged
  • Molecular Epidemiology
  • Neisseria gonorrhoeae / classification
  • Neisseria gonorrhoeae / drug effects*
  • Neisseria gonorrhoeae / genetics*
  • Phylogeny
  • Time Factors
  • Ukraine
  • Whole Genome Sequencing
  • Young Adult

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