The human microbiome can protect against colonization with pathogenic antibiotic-resistant bacteria (ARB), but its impacts on the spread of antibiotic resistance are poorly understood. We propose a mathematical modeling framework for ARB epidemiology formalizing within-host ARB-microbiome competition, and impacts of antibiotic consumption on microbiome function. Applied to the healthcare setting, we demonstrate a trade-off whereby antibiotics simultaneously clear bacterial pathogens and increase host susceptibility to their colonization, and compare this framework with a traditional strain-based approach. At the population level, microbiome interactions drive ARB incidence, but not resistance rates, reflecting distinct epidemiological relevance of different forces of competition. Simulating a range of public health interventions (contact precautions, antibiotic stewardship, microbiome recovery therapy) and pathogens (Clostridioides difficile, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, multidrug-resistant Enterobacteriaceae) highlights how species-specific within-host ecological interactions drive intervention efficacy. We find limited impact of contact precautions for Enterobacteriaceae prevention, and a promising role for microbiome-targeted interventions to limit ARB spread.
Keywords: C. difficile; E. coli; K. pneumoniae; S. aureus; antibiotics; ecology; epidemiology; global health; human; microbiota; within-host interactions.
© 2021, Smith et al.