Plasmids as epidemiologic markers in nosocomial gram-negative bacilli: Experience in an intensive care unit

M. T. Mascellino, E. Iona, S. Farinelli, F. Iegri, M. Marandola, M. L. Pennacchiotti, C. Cascioli, U. Visco Comandini, G. De Logu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The authors have compared the antimicrobial resistance patterns and plasmid profiles of Gram-negative isolates in an intensive care unit over a 7-month period in order to identify epidemiologically related isolates. Bacterial plasmids were found to be valuable markers for the comparison of strains of nosocomial Gram-negative bacilli. Thirty-nine mechanically ventilated patients in an ICU were included. From broncoaspiratus, the authors isolated 58 strains of Gram-negative bacilli (24 Ps. aeruginosa and 34 Enterobacteria). Common plasmids were found in most Enterobacteria. The interspecies plasmid exchange suggests that interstate spread of these strains may have occurred. Twenty-six Enterobacteria carried plasmids, 11 of which proved transmissible. The R-factors were transferred to other genera that were isolated in the hospital, thereby adding to the pool of multiresistant nosocomial isolates. Larger plasmids transferred ampicillin and carbenicillin resistance, while gentamycin and cephalotin resistance was carried by smaller plasmids. Only 4 Ps. aeruginosa carried plasmids, one of which was transmissible. Pseudomonas plasmid DNA is extracted with difficulty by the simple lysis method, due to the roughness of the colonies. All Pseudomonas isolates belonged to the same biotype which can be regarded as an epidemiological marker. Therefore, plasmid profiling is a useful tool for epidemiological surveillance of Enterobacteria and is a good method for determining the relatedness of isolates in a nosocomial environment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)121-128
Number of pages8
JournalDrugs under Experimental and Clinical Research
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1992

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Pharmacology (medical)
  • Drug Discovery
  • Pharmacology

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