Genetics of antimicrobial resistance

Office of Research, Center for Veterinary Medicine, U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Laurel, Maryland 20708, USA.
Animal Biotechnology (Impact Factor: 0.64). 02/2006; 17(2):111-24. DOI: 10.1080/10495390600957092
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Antimicrobial resistant strains of bacteria are an increasing threat to animal and human health. Resistance mechanisms to circumvent the toxic action of antimicrobials have been identified and described for all known antimicrobials currently available for clinical use in human and veterinary medicine. Acquired bacterial antibiotic resistance can result from the mutation of normal cellular genes, the acquisition of foreign resistance genes, or a combination of these two mechanisms. The most common resistance mechanisms employed by bacteria include enzymatic degradation or alteration of the antimicrobial, mutation in the antimicrobial target site, decreased cell wall permeability to antimicrobials, and active efflux of the antimicrobial across the cell membrane. The spread of mobile genetic elements such as plasmids, transposons, and integrons has greatly contributed to the rapid dissemination of antimicrobial resistance among several bacterial genera of human and veterinary importance. Antimicrobial resistance genes have been shown to accumulate on mobile elements, leading to a situation where multidrug resistance phenotypes can be transferred to a susceptible recipient via a single genetic event. The increasing prevalence of antimicrobial resistant bacterial pathogens has severe implications for the future treatment and prevention of infectious diseases in both animals and humans. The versatility with which bacteria adapt to their environment and exchange DNA between different genera highlights the need to implement effective antimicrobial stewardship and infection control programs in both human and veterinary medicine.

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