Microbiome Compositions and Resistome Levels after Antibiotic Treatment of Critically Ill Patients: An Observational Cohort Study

Microorganisms. 2021 Dec 9;9(12):2542. doi: 10.3390/microorganisms9122542.


Hospitalization and treatment with antibiotics increase the risk of acquiring multidrug-resistant bacteria due to antibiotic-mediated changes in patient microbiota. This study aimed to investigate how broad- and narrow-spectrum antibiotics affect the gut microbiome and the resistome in antibiotic naïve patients during neurointensive care. Patients admitted to the neurointensive care unit were treated with broad-spectrum (meropenem or piperacillin/tazobactam) or narrow-spectrum antibiotic treatment (including ciprofloxacin, cefuroxime, vancomycin and dicloxacillin) according to clinical indications. A rectal swab was collected from each patient before and after 5-7 days of antibiotic therapy (N = 34), respectively. Shotgun metagenomic sequencing was performed and the composition of metagenomic species (MGS) was determined. The resistome was characterized with CARD RGI software and the CARD database. As a measure for selection pressure in the patient, we used the sum of the number of days with each antibiotic (antibiotic days). We observed a significant increase in richness and a tendency for an increase in the Shannon index after narrow-spectrum treatment. For broad-spectrum treatment the effect was more diverse, with some patients increasing and some decreasing in richness and Shannon index. This was studied further by comparison of patients who had gained or lost >10 MGS, respectively. Selection pressure was significantly higher in patients with decreased richness and a decreased Shannon index who received the broad treatment. A decrease in MGS richness was significantly correlated to the number of drugs administered and the selection pressure in the patient. Bray-Curtis dissimilarities were significant between the pre- and post-treatment of samples in the narrow group, indicating that the longer the narrow-spectrum treatment, the higher the differences between the pre- and the post-treatment microbial composition. We did not find significant differences between pre- and post-treatment for both antibiotic spectrum treatments; however, we observed that most of the antibiotic class resistance genes were higher in abundance in post-treatment after broad-spectrum treatment.

Keywords: antimicrobial resistance; antimicrobial treatment; metagenomics; microbiome; microbiota.

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