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Volume 52, Number 1, February 2019

Hypermucoviscosity, rmpA, and aerobactin are associated with community-acquired Klebsiella pneumoniae bacteremic isolates causing liver abscess in Singapore 

Thean Yen Tan, Melissa Ong, Yvonne Cheng, Lily Siew Yong Ng


Background and purpose: 

This retrospective study investigated the clinical etiology of community-acquired bacteremic Klebsiella pneumoniae infections, and characterized laboratory and genetic markers which may be associated with primary liver abscess (PLA). 



Community-onset K. pneumoniae bacteremic episodes from 2010 to 2011 were identified from the laboratory information system. Isolates were retrieved for susceptibility testing, hypermucoviscosity testing, PCR-based serotyping (K1, K2 and K5) and PCR detection of virulence genes (rmpA, alls, kfu and aerobactin). Clinical data collected from electronic medical records included primary and secondary diagnoses, co-existing morbidities, antibiotic therapy, and in-patient mortality. 



129 bacteremic episodes were identified. The most common primary infections were pneumonia (n = 24, 18.6%), primary liver abscess (n = 21, 16.3%) and urinary tract infections (n = 21, 16.3%). Hypermucoviscosity was present in 55 isolates (42.6%). The most commonly detected virulence genes were aerobactin (n = 63, 48.8%) and rmpA (n = 59, 45.7%). Isolates causing liver abscess were significantly associated with a positive string test, rmpA, aerobactin gene, and capsular serotype K1 (all p < 0.01), but not with capsular serotype K2, K5, kfu, or allS genes. The absence of a positive string test, rmpA, or aerobactin genes had a 97.3%–100% negative predictive value for PLA. The positive predictive values of the string test, rmpA, aerobactin genes, and serotype K1 for PLA ranged from 31.7% to 35.6%. 



In our study population, pneumonia and PLA were the most common sources of community-acquired bacteremia. Hypermucoviscosity, rmpA, aerobactin, and serotype K1 could be useful laboratory markers to alert clinicians to arrange abdominal imaging to detect liver abscess. 


Key words:

Hepatic abscessString testVirulence factors