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Volume 51, Number 6, December 2018

Vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus faecium at a university hospital in Taiwan, 2002–2015: Fluctuation of genetic populations and emergence of a new structure type of the Tn1546-like element 

An-Jing Kuo, Jwu-Ching Shu, Tsui-Ping Liu, Jang-Jih Lu, Ming-Hsun Lee, Ting-Shu Wu, Lin-Hui Su,Tsu-LanWu


Background and purpose: 

Vancomycin resistance increased significantly to 31.3% among Enterococcus faecium in 2006 and remained high thereafter at a university hospital in Taiwan. A longitudinal study was retrospectively conducted to characterize these vancomycin-resistant E. faecium (VRE-fm). 



A total of 378 non-repetitive VRE-fm blood isolates collected during 2002–2015 were studied. Multilocus sequence typing, pulsed-field gel electrophoresis, analysis of van genes and the Tn1546 structure, and conjugation experiments were performed. 



The majority (78.0%) of the isolates were associated with hospital-acquired infections. Molecular typing revealed nine major pulsotypes and five predominant sequence types (STs): ST17 (33.9%), ST78 (18.3%), ST414 (14.6%), ST18 (10.6%), and ST203 (7.4%). Fluctuation of these prevailing STs among the study years in association with some major pulsotypes was noted. All isolates carried vanA genes, except that in four isolates vanB genes were found. Among the vanA-carrying Tn1546-like elements, one predominant structure type (Type I, 55.9%) was noted throughout the study years. Since 2009, another predominant structure type (Type II, 40.1%) has emerged firstly in ST414 and gradually spread to other 11 STs in subsequent years. Isolates carrying these Type II Tn1546-like elements have become the most predominant population since 2014, majorly found in ST78 and ST17. Preliminary experiments indicated that plasmids carrying the Type II Tn1546-like elements demonstrated ten-fold higher efficiency than those carrying the Type I Tn1546-like elements. 



Dissemination of some major STs and horizontal transfer of plasmids carrying two major structure types of Tn1546-like elements may have together contributed to the increase of VRE-fm infection.



Key words:

Bayesian analysis of population structure Clonal complex 17 Enterococcus faeciumTn1546-like elementVancomycin resistance