Patients with solid organ transplants, due to the transplant process itself, hospital admission and immunosuppression, among other factors, are frequently colonized or infected by antibiotic resistant bacteria.

In a study published recently in the Scientific Reports journal [doi: 10.1038 / s41598-019-45060-y], IDIVAL researchers belonging to the group of Epidemiology and Pathogenic and Molecular Mechanisms of Infectious Diseases and Microbiology, led by Dr. Carmen Fariñas, Head of the Infectious Diseases Service of the Hospital Marqués de Valdecilla, have studied the virulence factors of a collection of bacteria isolated from transplanted patients (kidney, liver or liver-pancreas).

These bacteria, belong mainly to the species Escherichia coli, Klebsiella pneumoniae and Enterobacter cloacae and are able to colonize these patients and cause infections after the transplant surgery. Hence, it is very important to know their capacity to colonize, not only the digestive tract of patients, but also the surfaces and medical devices which they come into contact with. This is a serious problem, because all selected bacteria turned out to be resistant to multiple antibiotics. These are the so-called "Superbaceria" that may cause serious infections that are difficult to fight. One of the virulence factors analyzed has shown that the bacterium Klebsiella pneumoniae has a great capacity to form biofilms, which indicates that it could easily colonize human intestinal cells and resist antibiotics better. The more capacity to form biofilms, the longer these bacteria will remain in the intestine of patients and even in the hospital environment. This adherence capacity seems to be less important in E. coli and Enterobacter, so in these species other virulence factors may be involved in the colonization of patients and infections that occur after transplantation.

This study is part of the ENTHEREproject, a project carried out in 7 hospitals and research centers throughout Spain, which aims to seek treatments to fight the Superbacteria that colonize and infect transplanted patients.

In the image a dividing bacterium of the Klebsiella pneumoniae species isolated from a transplanted patient is shown. The image has been taken at 20,000 magnifications in an electron microscope of the IDIVAL microscopy services.

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