Time trend analysis (2009-2016) of antimicrobial susceptibility in Neisseria gonorrhoeae isolated in Italy following the introduction of the combined antimicrobial therapy

Paola Stefanelli, Maria Fenicia Vescio, Maria Paola Landini, Ivano Dal Conte, Alberto Matteelli, Antonio Cristaudo, Marina Gaino, Marco Cusini, Anna Maria Barbui, Antonella Mencacci, Rosella De Nittis, Valeria Ghisetti, Elena Stroppiana, Anna Carannante, Neisseria gonorrhoeae antimicrobials resistant Study Group

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Introduction Neisseria gonorrhoeae (NG) antimicrobial susceptibility trends to azithromycin, cefixime and ceftriaxone were analyzed, from 2009 to 2016, to monitor changing antimicrobial susceptibility concomitant with the change in prescribing practice in 2012 from cefixime, or ceftriaxone, to ceftriaxone plus azithromycin. Patient characteristics predictive to be infected by antibiotic resistant N. gonorrhoeae were estimated. Finally, the protocol for the treatment of gonorrhoea, in comparison with the international guidelines, was also evaluated. Materials and methods Data on NG antimicrobial resistance were obtained from a network of sexually transmitted diseases clinics and other laboratories in 12 cities in Italy. We tested the 1,433 gonococci for antimicrobial susceptibility to azithromycin, cefixime and ceftriaxone using a gradient diffusion method. Logistic-regression methods with cluster robust standard errors were used to investigate the association of resistance categories with demographic and clinical patient characteristics and to assess changes in prescribing practices. To minimize bias due to missing data, all statistical models were fitted to data with forty rounds of multiple imputation, using chained equations. Results The percentage of isolates resistant to cefixime was 17.10% in 2009 and declined up to 1.39% in 2016; at the same time, those resistant to azithromycin was 23.68% in 2009 and 3.00% in 2012. Starting from 2013, azithromycin resistant gonococci tended to increase up to 7.44% in 2016. No ceftriaxone resistant isolates were observed. By multivariate analysis, the men who have sex with women (MSW) and women had a proportional adjusted OR of resistance of 1.25 (95%CI: 0.90; 1.73) and 1.67 (95%CI: 1.16; 2.40), respectively, in comparison with men who have sex with men (MSM). An aOR of resistance of 0.48 (95%CI: 0.21; 1.12) among NG isolated in the pharynx, compared with those isolated in genital sites, was calculated. The proportional aOR of resistance was 0.58 (95%CI: 0.38; 0.89) for presence vs absence of co-infection and 2.00 (95%CI: 1.36; 2.96) for past history vs no history of gonorrhoea.Finally, at least for the period 2013–2016, the older, subjects with anorectal or pharyngeal gonorrhoea infection, subjects with a co-infection, subjects with a previous gonorrhoea infection were not always correctly treated. Conclusions Overall, our findings suggest the shifts in N. gonorrhoeae susceptibility to cefixime and azithromycin in the time frame period. First of all, the increasing rate of azithromycin resistance in 2015–2016 in NG isolated in the country need to be monitor in the future. Finally, extensive information on treatment regimens may be useful to asses treatment adherence particularly for the older subjects, subjects with an anorectal or pharyngeal infection, subjects with a co-infection and subjects with a previous history of gonorrhoea. Gonorrhoea treatment strategy should be based on the evidence obtained by the local antimicrobial surveillance system and data about treatment failures.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0189484
JournalPLoS One
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)


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