SEARCH

SEARCH BY CITATION

Keywords:

  • Clinical impact;
  • drug-resistant pneumococci;
  • MRSA;
  • review;
  • VRE

Abstract

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. Introduction
  4. Streptococcus Pneumoniae
  5. Staphylococcus Aureus
  6. Enterococci
  7. Conclusions
  8. Acknowledgements
  9. Transparency Declaration
  10. References

The European Union’s attention to the problem of antibacterial resistance will soon reach a 10-year mark, but the rates of resistance in Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria are still increasing. This review focuses on the clinical impact of resistant Gram-positive bacteria on patients. Multiple drug resistance in pneumococcal infections will lead to more treatment failures and higher mortality, which so far have been seen with penicillins and pathogens with high-level resistance. Several studies have demonstrated higher mortality, prolonged length of hospital stay and higher costs associated with methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus infections, in comparison with methicillin-susceptible Staphylococcus aureus infections. Similarly, vancomycin-resistant enterococci bloodstream infections have a negative impact with respect to mortality, length of hospital stay and costs, in comparison with infections due to vancomycin-susceptible enterococci. Several distinctive prophylactic and therapeutic approaches have to be undertaken to successfully prevent the clinical consequences of antibiotic resistance in Gram-positive bacteria. This review addresses the impact of antibiotic-resistant Gram-positive pathogens on clinical outcomes.


Introduction

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. Introduction
  4. Streptococcus Pneumoniae
  5. Staphylococcus Aureus
  6. Enterococci
  7. Conclusions
  8. Acknowledgements
  9. Transparency Declaration
  10. References

The European Union’s attention to the nightmare of antimicrobial resistance will soon reach a 10-year mark [1]. Available evidence shows that the proportion of Gram-positive bacteria resistant to commonly used antibiotics is increasing [2,3]. The mechanisms of this resistance are often complex, and include production of β-lactamases, upregulated efflux pumps, and target site mutations [4,5]. Raising awareness of the effect of antimicrobial resistance on clinical outcomes has several potential benefits [6]. Knowledge about the implications of resistance for patient outcomes may prompt hospitals and healthcare providers to establish and support initiatives to prevent such infections. Susceptibility data can be used to convince healthcare providers to follow guidelines concerning isolation and to make rational choices about the use of antimicrobial agents. Furthermore, susceptibility data can guide policy-makers, i.e. those responsible for decisions concerning funding of programmes, to track and prevent the spread of antimicrobial-resistant organisms. Finally, such awareness may stimulate interest in developing new antimicrobial agents and therapies.

Various methodological issues can influence the carrying out and the results of studies of antimicrobial resistance outcomes [7]. The types of outcome considered, the perspective of the study, the reference groups within the study, the adjustments for confounding factors and the type of economic assessment are among the factors that should be taken into account (Table 1) [8].

Table 1.   Methodological factors with influence on studies assessing the impact of infection with antimicrobial-resistant bacteria ([6], reprinted with permission)
Methodological issue, factorAspects
  1. ICU, intensive-care unit.

Outcome
 MortalityIn hospital, attributable to infection; in hospital and after discharge, all-cause
 MorbidityLength of hospitalization, need for ICU care, need for surgery or other procedures, activity level at discharge, and loss of functional status (loss of work)
 EconomicHospital costs, hospital charges, resource utilization, total healthcare costs, skilled nursing, and other outpatient costs
Other perspective
 HospitalInpatient morbidity, mortality, and/or costs
 Third-party payerInpatient and outpatient healthcare costs
 PatientDecreased functional status, loss of work, and fewer antimicrobial agent options
 SocietalTotal healthcare costs of antimicrobial resistance and loss of antimicrobial classes
Choice of reference group
 Patients infected with susceptible strains
 Uninfected patients
 Patients colonized with resistant strains
Confounding factors
 Length of hospital stayAPACHE score, McCabe/Jackson score, and Charlson comorbidity score
 Underlying severity of illness
 Comorbid conditions

Streptococcus Pneumoniae

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. Introduction
  4. Streptococcus Pneumoniae
  5. Staphylococcus Aureus
  6. Enterococci
  7. Conclusions
  8. Acknowledgements
  9. Transparency Declaration
  10. References

The global figures concerning morbidity and mortality due to pneumococcal pneumonia, the most common type of community-acquired pneumonia (CAP), remain striking [9]. The mortality rate ranges from 6.4% among patients in an ambulatory and hospital setting to >40% among patients treated in an intensive-care unit (ICU). Historically, clinicians have prescribed penicillin for the empirical treatment of S. pneumoniae infections, with little concern about the susceptibility of the pneumococcus to the chosen antimicrobial. However, the development of multidrug resistance among clinical S. pneumoniae isolates has posed more challenges in treating some syndromes caused by this organism. ‘High-level’ penicillin resistance (MIC≥2.0 mg/mL) among S. pneumoniae has increased to a greater degree during the past 10 years than has intermediate resistance. Despite the decreasing susceptibility of pneumococci to penicillin, convincing evidence that resistance has an adverse effect on clinical outcomes, particularly mortality, is lacking [10]. This was illustrated in a prospective 10-year study from Spain, in which mortality was not found to correlate with drug resistance, even though rates of resistance to penicillin, cephalosporins and erythromycin increased during the study period [11]. Since then, several studies have attempted to evaluate this relationship. In a review of the implications of antibacterial resistance for the treatment of CAP, Metlay [12] evaluated 15 published reports assessing the impact of penicillin-non-susceptible S. pneumoniae (PNSSP) on outcomes of pneumococcal pneumonia, representing the outcomes of >7500 patients. Twelve of the studies concluded that non-susceptibility had no impact on mortality.

However, in several studies, treatment and severity of illness were not recorded. In a trial controlling for risk factors, severity of illness and treatment, the findings revealed that antimicrobial resistance did not contribute to mortality or to the requirement for ICU care, and revealed that more important predictors of outcome included severity of illness [13]. An international prospective, observational study of 844 patients with pneumococcal bacteraemia revealed that age, severity of illness and comorbidity were associated with mortality but not with the isolates being PNSSP [14]. In summary, the prevailing view has been that current levels of penicillin resistance do not adversely affect outcomes of CAP in immunocompetent patients as long as the MIC is <4.0 mg/L (which is the case for the majority of non-susceptible isolates).

In the latest analysis of penicillin resistance by Tleyjeh et al. [15], ten studies that fulfilled very rigorous criteria were identified out of 1152 articles and were evaluated. The authors examined the association between PNSSP and short-term mortality in pneumococcal pneumonia, and found a significant difference in the mortality rate (19.4% in the PNSSP group and 15.7% in the penicillin-susceptible S. pneumoniae group) (Table 2). They concluded that penicillin non-susceptibility is a prognostic factor and should be included as a risk factor for mortality. If this observation is correct, it calls for a change in our view of PNSSP and implies an increased need to address the issue of penicillin resistance [9]. However, the authors’ ability to control for confounding variables in each of the analysed studies can be questioned, as it is well recognized that mortality associated with pneumococcal pneumonia often reflects factors that are independent of antimicrobial susceptibility. Host factors (e.g. extremes of age, underlying immunosuppressive or debilitating diseases and comorbidities, or factors intrinsic to the microorganisms, e.g. capsular subtypes) influence mortality irrespective of antimicrobial susceptibility profiles [16–18]. Mortality rates are higher in the presence of multilobar involvement, renal insufficiency, hypoxaemia, severe irregularities in physiological parameters, and other comorbidities, as well as ICU stay.

Table 2.   Summary of combined relative risks (RRs) of mortality for the penicillin-non-susceptible Streptococcus pneumoniae (PNSSP), penicillin-intermediate S. pneumoniae (PISP) and penicillin-resistant S. pneumoniae (PRSP) groups, compared with the penicillin-susceptible S. pneumoniae (PSSP) group ([15], reprinted with permission)
 PNSSP groupPISP groupPRSP group
GroupNo. of studiesNo. of patients RR (95% CI)No. of studiesNo. of patients RR (95% CI)No. of studiesNo. of patients RR (95% CI)
Total cohort1011401.31 (1.08–1.59)107071.34 (1.13–1.60)104331.29 (1.01–1.66)
Bacteraemic group55451.50 (1.22–1.84)53271.61 (1.28–2.03) 52181.38 (0.99–1.93)
Concordant therapy group52931.60 (1.07–2.40)52181.54 (0.99–2.41)5751.84 (1.15–2.97)
Discordant therapy group51641.61 (1.12–2.31)5911.72 (1.10–2.70)5731.88 (1.15–3.08)

Macrolide resistance in S. pneumoniae may have a higher clinical importance than penicillin resistance. Several authors have reported failures of macrolide treatment in patients with bacteraemia due to macrolide-resistant S. pneumoniae [19–21]. In studies from the USA and Europe, cases of ‘breakthrough’ bacteraemia were reported during macrolide treatment [22,23], but nearly all patients were treated successfully with other antibiotics [21,23]. Also, some data suggest that resistance to older fluoroquinolones can result in clinical failure [24].

Staphylococcus Aureus

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. Introduction
  4. Streptococcus Pneumoniae
  5. Staphylococcus Aureus
  6. Enterococci
  7. Conclusions
  8. Acknowledgements
  9. Transparency Declaration
  10. References

Since its first appearance in 1960 [25], methicillin resistance in Staphylococcus aureus strains has become widespread in hospitals and ICUs [26,27].

Of growing concern is the emergence of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) in patients with no previous healthcare contact or apparent risk factors. Recently, a prospective study from nine San Francisco-area medical centres found an annual incidence of community-onset MRSA disease among San Francisco residents of 316 cases/100 000 population, as compared with 31 cases/100 000 population for hospital-onset disease [28].

In 2003, Cosgrove et al. [29] conducted a meta-analysis to summarize the impact of methicillin resistance on mortality in cases of Staphylococcus aureus bacteraemia. All studies considered contained both absolute numbers and mortality rates for patients with MRSA and methicillin-susceptible Staphylococcus aureus (MSSA) bacteraemia. Data were analysed according to the demographic characteristics of the patients, adjustment for severity and comorbid illness, source of bacteraemia and crude and adjusted ORs, and 95% CIs for in-hospital mortality. When the results were pooled with a random-effects model, a significant increase in mortality associated with MRSA bacteraemia was evident (OR 1.93; 95% CI  1.54–2.42; p <0.001). In subgroup analyses conducted to explore heterogeneity in the pooled analyses, mortality associated with MRSA infection was consistently higher, with minimal heterogeneity or without significant heterogeneity in each group.

Length of hospital stay and cost related to MRSA bacteraemia, as compared with those related to MSSA bacteraemia, were evaluated in two additional cohort studies [30,31]. A study by Cosgrove et al. [30] evaluated 346 patients admitted to the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston with clinically significant Staphylococcus aureus bacteraemia (96 case patients with MRSA infection and 252 control patients with MSSA infection) between 1996 and 2000. Among survivors, methicillin resistance was associated with a significant increase in the median length of hospital stay after acquisition of infection (9 vs. 7 days for patients with MSSA bacteraemia; p 0.045) and also with hospital costs after onset of Staphylococcus aureus bacteraemia. MRSA bacteraemia was an independent predictor of increase in both length of hospitalization (1.3-fold increase; p 0.016) and hospital costs (1.4-fold increase; p 0.017). A second study [31] prospectively evaluated 105 haemodialysis-dependent patients with Staphylococcus aureus bacteraemia who were admitted to Duke University Medical Center between 1996 and 2001. Thirty-four patients with MRSA infections were compared with 70 patients with MSSA infections. The authors reported similar results for the population of patients undergoing haemodialysis and for the inpatient population in Boston; the adjusted median length of hospital stay was longer (11 vs. 7 days; p <0.001), and the adjusted median costs for the initial hospitalization, and after 12 weeks, were also significantly higher for patients infected with MRSA.

Engemann et al. [32] evaluated clinical and economic outcomes attributable to methicillin resistance in a retrospective cohort study of patients with Staphylococcus aureus surgical site infections primarily associated with cardiac or orthopaedic procedures. During the period 1994–2000, 121 patients with a surgical site infection due to MRSA and 165 patients with a surgical site infection due to MSSA were identified, and another 193 uninfected patients, matched by type and year of surgical procedure, were selected. The authors reported an independent contribution of methicillin resistance to increased mortality, prolonged length of hospitalization, and increased hospital costs, which is consistent with the findings for bacteraemia. The presence of MRSA in a surgical wound increased the adjusted 90-day postoperative mortality risk 3.4-fold, as compared with the presence of MSSA (p 0.003), and 11.4-fold as compared with the absence of infection (p <0.001) (Table 3).

Table 3.   Outcomes related to methicillin resistance in Staphylococcus aureus surgical site infections (SSIs) [32]
ComparisonDeathLength of hospital stay after surgeryCharges
Percentage of subjects who diedORpTotal no. of days, meanMENo. of days attributable to MRSAp US$, meanMEUS$ attributable to MRSAp
  1. ME, multiplicative effect; MRSA, methicillin-resistant S. aureus; MSSA, methicillin-susceptible S.aureus

Control vs. MRSA SSI 11.4<0.001 3.213.4<0.001 2.241274<0.001
Uninfected control subjects (n = 193)2.1  6.1    34395   
Patients with MRSA SSI (n = 121)20.7  29.1   118414   
MSSA SSI vs. MRSA SSI 3.40.003 1.22.60.11 1.2139010.03
Patients with MSSA SSI (n = 165)6.7  13.2    73165   
Patients with MRSA SSI (n = 121)20.7  29.1   118414   

A recent study from Canada addressing Staphylococcus aureus bloodstream infections confirmed the previous findings [32]. The authors reported a dramatic increase since 2004 in cases of MRSA bacteraemia, especially resulting from community-onset infections. Dialysis dependence, organ transplantation, human immunodeficiency virus infection, cancer and diabetes were the most important risk factors, and were comparable for MSSA and MRSA bacteraemias. The overall case-fatality rate was higher among individuals with MRSA bacteraemia (39%) than among those with MSSA bacteraemia (24%; p <0.0001) (Fig. 1).

image

Figure 1.  Mortality rate (no. of deaths per 100 000 population) associated with Staphylococcus aureus bacteraemia, Calgary Health Region, 2000–2006. MRSA, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus; MSSA, methicillin-susceptible Staphylococcus aureus ([33], reprinted with permission).

Download figure to PowerPoint

Enterococci

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. Introduction
  4. Streptococcus Pneumoniae
  5. Staphylococcus Aureus
  6. Enterococci
  7. Conclusions
  8. Acknowledgements
  9. Transparency Declaration
  10. References

Vancomycin-resistent enterococci (VRE) were first isolated almost 20 years ago [34], and have since become important nosocomial pathogens for which there are limited treatment options. VRE infections have been shown to have a negative impact on both mortality and cost of hospitalization [35–37].

In a meta-analysis, Diaz Granados et al. [38] addressed the issue of whether vancomycin resistance is independently associated with mortality among patients with enterococcal bloodstream infection. Among 114 studies, 11 initially met the strict inclusion criteria. Finally, only nine studies were eligible for analysis, with a total of 1614 episodes of enterococcal bloodstream infection (VRE, 683 episodes; vancomycin-susceptible enterococci, 931 episodes). Four of the studies reported no significant association between vancomycin resistance and mortality, and five reported a significant association. The point estimates for all nine studies fell to the right side of 0-value (Fig. 2). Patients with bacteraemia caused by VRE were more likely to die than those with vancomycin-susceptible enterococci bacteraemia (summary OR 2.52; 95% CI  1.9–3.4). Enterococcus faecium is more frequently associated with vancomycin resistance than is Enterococcus faecalis; however, several studies have demonstrated that an association between mortality and vancomycin resistance is independent of the species [38,47].

image

Figure 2.  Meta-analysis plot using a random-effects model. The dots represent the point estimates for the measure of effect of each study. The horizontal lines represent the 95% Cls for each study. The rhomboidal figure represents the summary measure and 95% Cl. The right column shows the numeric values for each study and summary measure ([38], reprinted with permission).

Download figure to PowerPoint

Taking into consideration all published data, we can conclude that vancomycin resistance is an independent predictor of death in patients with enterococcal bloodstream infections.

Conclusions

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. Introduction
  4. Streptococcus Pneumoniae
  5. Staphylococcus Aureus
  6. Enterococci
  7. Conclusions
  8. Acknowledgements
  9. Transparency Declaration
  10. References

The data presented in this review suggest that penicillin and macrolide resistance is associated with a higher mortality rate than penicillin and macrolide susceptibility in cases of pneumococcal CAP and bacteraemia; infections due to MRSA and VRE are also associated with higher mortality rates, prolonged length of hospital stay, and increased costs.

These data highlight the serious clinical consequences of antimicrobial resistance among Gram-positive pathogens and emphasize the importance of efforts to limit their emergence and spread. Judicious use of antimicrobial drugs is necessary, and several approaches have been suggested to improve antimicrobial prescription practices by involving both patients and physicians in educational efforts, as well as the pharmaceutical industry [1,48,49].

Acknowledgements

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. Introduction
  4. Streptococcus Pneumoniae
  5. Staphylococcus Aureus
  6. Enterococci
  7. Conclusions
  8. Acknowledgements
  9. Transparency Declaration
  10. References

This article refers to the ESCMID Conference entitled ‘Fighting infections due to MDR Gram positives’(Venice, May 2008), especially to the presentations of R. Cauder, P. Courvalin, F. Vandenesch, G. Peters, W. Witte, J. Garau, C. Brun-Buisson, J. Rello, R. Utili, E. Bouza, M. Bonten, W. Kern, and M. Fallagas.

Transparency Declaration

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. Introduction
  4. Streptococcus Pneumoniae
  5. Staphylococcus Aureus
  6. Enterococci
  7. Conclusions
  8. Acknowledgements
  9. Transparency Declaration
  10. References

H. M. Lode received funds and lecture fees from Bayer Health Care, Sanofi-Aventis, Pfizer, Janssen, Astellas, Wyeth and GlaxoSmithKline.

References

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. Introduction
  4. Streptococcus Pneumoniae
  5. Staphylococcus Aureus
  6. Enterococci
  7. Conclusions
  8. Acknowledgements
  9. Transparency Declaration
  10. References