“Acinetobacter (species) have risen from relative obscurity to be among the most important sources of hospital-acquired infections,” the team writes in the current issue of Microbiology and Molecular Biology
Reviews. “The driving force for this has been the remarkable ability of these organisms to acquire antibiotic resistance determinants, with some strains now showing resistance to every antibiotic in clinical use.”
Reviewing recent genetic research, the team concludes the bacteria not only rapidly acquires drug-resistance genes from other bacteria in the environment, but is innately more resistant to existing classes of antibiotics — and to stress in general — than other bacteria.
“Acinetobacter (species) show several key differences from other pathogenic gammaproteobacteria, particularly in global stress response pathways,” the authors wrote. “The involvement of these pathways in short-and long-term antibiotic survival suggests that Acinetobacter species cope with antibiotic-induced stress differently from other microorganisms … There is an urgent need for new antibacterial compounds to combat the threat imposed by Acinetobacter species and ther intractable bacterial pathogens.”
Acinetobacter is frequently associated with bloodstream infection (bacteremia) or ventilator-associated pneumonia (VAP), but appears to be increasingly associated with soft tissue and brain infections, the authors noted.
Acinetobacter is rapidly spreading throughout US, Australian and western European hospitals and long-term care facilities like nursing homes.
Drug resistance, disinfectant resistance and tolerance of prolonged desiccation make Acinetobacter an environmentally-persistent bacteria in hospital settings, hastening its spread.
Possibly in part because Acinetobacter baumannii inhibits airway cells’ inflammation response, ventilator pneumonias involving Acinetobacter infection are deadlier than other pneumonias, researchers report.
The new paper was written by a team of Acinetobacter experts at the University of Wollongong and University of Newcastle in New South Wales, and the Institute for the Biotechnology of Infectious Disease in Sydney, Australia. Their research was funded by grants from the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council and Australian Research Council.
Robinson A, Brzoska AJ, Turner KM, et al. Essential biological processes of an emerging pathogen: DNA replication, transcription and cell division in Acientobacter spp. Microbiol Mol Biol Rev. 2010 (June);74(2):273-297.
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