Prevalence of virulence genes and their association with biofilm formation in VRE faecium isolates from Ahvaz, Iran
Introduction: Vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus faecium (VREfm) is a common cause of nosocomial infections. Biofilm formation is an important factor in recurrence of infections, facilitating transfer of genetic elements, leading to treatment failures. The aim of this study was to investigate the virulence genes in biofilm producing isolates and to determine possible association between biofilm formation and the presence of these genes; also to determine association between antibiotic susceptibility patterns of VREfm isolates and their biofilm formation ability.
Methodology: A total of 57 isolates of VREfm were recovered from different sources of hospitals under Ahvaz University, Iran. The isolates were examined by conventional microbiological methods and molecular test using PCR. The antibiotic susceptibility patterns of the isolates were determined by disk-diffusion and E-test. The biofilm formation ability of the isolates was investigated by Modified Congo red agar and microtiter plate techniques. The presence of virulence genes was examined using Multiplex-PCR method.
Results: Out of 57 VREfm isolates, 63.15% of isolates were biofilm producers. The frequency of biofilm producing isolates from clinical specimens, colonized patients and environmental sources were 78.26%, 60%, and 42.85%, respectively. The prevalence of acm, esp and hyl genes among biofilm producing isolates was 86.10%, 55.56% and 52.77%, respectively. There was statistically significant association between esp gene and biofilm formation among isolates from the clinical specimens.
Conclusion: Clinical isolates producing biofilms showed a positive association with the presence of the esp. Our study further suggests that the link between virulence genes and biofilms is affected by the environmental context.
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