Clinical isolation and characterization of aminoglycoside-resistant small colony variants of enterobacter aerogenes
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Small colony variants of Enterobacter aerogenes, as well as the parental large colony type, grew in blood drawn for cultures on three separate days from a patient who had received suboptimal gentamicin therapy. Minimum inhibitory concentrations of four aminoglycoside antibiotics were eight to more than 16 times higher for small colony variants than for the normal large colony type. Small colony variants had defective catalase activity, which may have interfered with oxidative metabolism and aminoglycoside uptake. Small colony variants reverted readily to the parental type in vitro in the absence of aminoglycosides. Clinically isolated small colony variants appeared similar to those selected in the presence of gentamicin in vitro, with respect to colony morphology, aminoglycoside resistance and catalase deficiency. The isolation of small colony variants during gentamicin therapy in vivo suggests that such variants may be a cause of treatment failure in patients receiving aminoglycosides.
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