England (Commonwealth Union) – Antibiotic resistance in recent years has been predominantly blamed on the over-prescription of antibiotics for a variety of conditions. Microorganisms like all living organisms attempt to survive under tough conditions, resulting in them evolving to adapt to new challenges.
New research from the Oxford University demonstrated a significant finding on the way antimicrobial resistance (AMR) arises and continues. The findings, give the first direct proof of AMR bacteria moving from a patient’s gut microbiome to the lungs, elevating the chance of deadly infections.
Researchers led by Oxford University’s Department of Biology, have indicated that using these findings may save lives, showing the significance of preventing pathogenic bacteria moving from the gut to other organs which could lead to severe infections.
The study was carried out with a patient with the bacterium Pseudomonas aeruginosa as part of their gut microbiome. Pseudomonas aeruginosa is a leading factor of infections in hospitals, and resists antibiotics well. Pseudomonas is usually not dangerous when it is exposed to a healthy gut microbiome, it can result in serious infections in lungs of hospitalized patients.
While the patient was in hospital, the antibiotic Meropenem was administered for a suspected urinary tract infection (UTI). Meropenem treatment led to non-resistant bacteria in the gut and lung to be destroyed, and antibiotic resistant mutants of Pseudomonas could grow and multiply. Pseudomonas was noted to translocate from the gut to the patient’s lungs during antibiotic treatment, where it evolved even greater amounts of antibiotic resistance.
Lead author of the study Professor Craig MacLean of the Department of Biology said: “Our study shows how gut-lung translocation and antibiotic use can combine to drive the spread of AMR within a single patient. Insights such as this are needed in order to develop new interventions to prevent resistant infections. For example, our study highlights a potential benefit of eliminating AMR bacteria like Pseudomonas aeruginosa from the gut microbiome of hospitalized patients, even when these bacteria are not actually causing infection.”