Mycobacterium abscessus (MABS) is the most pathogenic and drug-resistant rapidly growing mycobacteria. However, studies on MABS epidemiology, especially those focusing on subspecies level, are scarce. We aimed to determine MABS subspecies distribution and its correlation with phenotypic and genotypic antibiotic profiles. A retrospective multicenter study of 96 clinical MABS isolates in Madrid between 2016 to 2021 was conducted. Identification at the subspecies level and resistance to macrolides and aminoglycosides were performed by the GenoType NTM-DR assay. The MICs of 11 antimicrobials tested against MABS isolates were determined using the broth microdilution method (RAPMYCOI Sensititer titration plates). Clinical isolates included 50 (52.1%) MABS subsp. abscessus; 33 (34.4%) MABS subsp. massiliense; and 13 (13.5%) MABS subsp. bolletii. The lowest resistance rates corresponded to amikacin (2.1%), linezolid (6.3%), cefoxitin (7.3%), and imipenem (14.6%), and the highest to doxycycline (100.0%), ciprofloxacin (89.6%), moxifloxacin (82.3%), cotrimoxazole (82.3%), tobramycin (81.3%), and clarithromycin (50.0% at day 14 of incubation). Regarding tigecycline, although there are no susceptibility breakpoints, all strains but one showed MICs ≤ 1 μg/mL. Four isolates harbored mutations at positions 2058/9 of the rrl gene, one strain harbored a mutation at position 1408 of the rrl gene, and 18/50 harbored the T28C substitution at erm(41) gene. Agreement of the GenoType results with clarithromycin and amikacin susceptibility testing was 99.0% (95/96). The rate of MABS isolates showed an upward trend during the study period, being M. abscessus subsp. abscessus the most frequently isolated subspecies. Amikacin, cefoxitin, linezolid, and imipenem showed great in vitro activity. The GenoType NTM-DR assay provides a reliable and complementary tool to broth microdilution for drug resistance detection. IMPORTANCE Infections caused by Mycobacterium abscessus (MABS) are increasingly being reported worldwide. Identifying MABS subspecies and assessing their phenotypic resistance profiles are crucial for optimal management and better patient outcomes. M. abscessus subspecies differ in erm(41) gene functionality, which is a critical determinant of macrolide resistance. Additionally, resistance profiles of MABS and the subspecies distribution can vary geographically, highlighting the importance of understanding local epidemiology and resistance patterns. This study provides valuable insights into the epidemiology and resistance patterns of MABS and its subspecies in Madrid. Elevated resistance rates were observed for several recommended antimicrobials, emphasizing the need for cautious drug use. Furthermore, we assessed the GenoType NTM-DR assay, which examines principal mutations in macrolides and aminoglycosides resistance-related genes. We observed a high level of agreement between the GenoType NTM-DR assay and the microdilution method, indicating its usefulness as an initial tool for early initiation of appropriate therapy.
Keywords: GenoType; Mycobacterium abscessus; antimicrobial susceptibility; epidemiology; in vitro susceptibility; inducible resistance; subspecies; subspecies distribution.