Macrolide resistance and In Vitro selection of resistance to antibiotics in Lactobacillus isolates

Lorenzo Drago, Roberto Mattina, Lucia Nicola, Valentina Rodighiero, Elena de Vecchi

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Spreading of resistance to antibiotics is of great concern due to the increasing rate of isolation of multiresistant pathogens. Since commensal bacteria may transfer determinants of resistance to pathogens, studies on development of resistance should include also lactobacilli. Resistance to macrolides, penicillins and tetracycline was determined in 40 isolates of Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus plantarum, Lactobacillus crispatus, and Lactobacillus casei isolated from faeces of apparently healthy volunteers. Frequency of mutation and changes in susceptibility after serial exposure to these antibiotics at concentrations of 4× and 8× MIC were evaluated in susceptible isolates. Acquired resistance was defined as an increment in MIC values of at least four times in respect to the pre-selection values. Resistance to macrolides and/or tetracycline was identified in 14 and 4 isolates, respectively. ermB gene and A2058G mutation in 23S rRNA were detected in macrolide resistant isolates. Frequencies of mutation of susceptible isolates (n=26) were lower for ampicillin and erythromycin than for tetracycline. Serial exposure to antibiotics led to selection of resistant mutants. However, acquired resistance was rather unstable and was lost after subcultures in antibiotic-free medium in most mutants. Resistance to erythromycin was associated to a A2058G mutation in 23S rRNA. In conclusion, results indicate that resistance to macrolides and tetracycline is present among intestinal lactobacilli. Decrease in susceptibility following serial exposure to antibiotics might occur in lactobacilli, in a strain- and antibiotic-dependent way. Since lactobacilli are often used as probiotics, their ability to acquire resistance should be evaluated for isolates candidate to be included in probiotics based products.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)651-656
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Microbiology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2011


  • antibiotics
  • lactobacilli
  • selection of resistance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology


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