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Volume 48, Number 5, October 2015

Molecular characteristics and virulence factors in methicillin-susceptible, resistant, and heterogeneous vancomycin-intermediate Staphylococcus aureus from central-southern China 

Cailin Liu, Zhong-ju Chen, Ziyong Sun, Xianju Feng, Mingxiang Zou, Wei Cao, Shanmei Wang, Ji Zeng, Yue Wang, Mingyue Sun

Received: October 2, 2013    Revised: March 6, 2014    Accepted: March 10, 2014   


Background and purpose: 

Staphylococcus aureus is a leading cause of nosocomial infections. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the prevalence of methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA) and heterogeneous vancomycin-intermediate S. aureus (hVISA), and compare the antimicrobial susceptibility, molecular characteristic, and virulence factors in methicillin-susceptible S. aureus (MSSA), MRSA, and hVISA from central-southern China.



A total of 184 S. aureus were isolated from sterile body fluids. All isolates were subjected to population analysis profiling for the identification of hVISA phenotype and polymerase chain reaction analysis for genotyping and 31 virulence genes. 



The prevalence of MRSA isolates was 41.8% in central-southern China. Of 77 MRSA isolates, 17 (22.1%) were identified as hVISA. The most common MRSA and MSSA clones were ST239-MRSA-SCCmecIII-t030-agr-I (55.8%) and ST188-MSSA-t189-agr-I (20.6%), respectively. The frequency of carriage of pvl, hemolysins, tst, and staphylococcal enterotoxin genes among MSSA isolates was significantly higher than that for MRSA isolates (p < 0.05); 98 MSSA isolates (53.3%) carried ≥10 tested virulence genes simultaneously, which was significantly higher than that of MRSA isolates (33.8%; p = 0.004). The 17 hVISA isolates carried a significantly small number of virulence genes; only two hVISA isolates carried ≥10 tested virulence genes simultaneously, and two hVISA isolates harbored only four virulence genes. Compared with other clonal complexes (CCs), CC1 and CC398 isolates harbored a higher frequency of exfoliatin genes, CC1 and CC59 harbored a higher frequency of pvl gene, and only CC1 isolates harbored lukED. 



The prevalence of hVISA was considerably high in central-southern China. Simultaneous carriage of multiple virulence genes was common in S. aureus isolates; the virulence genes were more diverse and frequent among MSSA isolates than among MRSA isolates. Furthermore, the distribution of some virulence genes was correlated with the different S. aureus CCs. 


Key words:

Heterogeneous vancomycin-intermediate Staphylococcus aureus, Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, Molecular, Staphylococcus aureus, Virulence gene