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Brazilian Journal of Microbiology

Print version ISSN 1517-8382On-line version ISSN 1678-4405


CAMARGO, I. L. B. C.; ZANELLA, R. C.; GILMORE, M. S.  and  DARINI, A. L. C.. Virulence factors in vancomycin-resistant and vancomycin - susceptible Enterococcus faecalis from Brazil. Braz. J. Microbiol. [online]. 2008, vol.39, n.2, pp.273-278. ISSN 1517-8382.

Enterococci are members of commensal flora of animals and insects, but are also important opportunistic pathogens. Our objective was to observe if there was any difference of virulence in several groups of E. faecalis, mainly between vancomycin-resistant E. faecalis (VREFS) of colonization and infection. VREFS and vancomycin-sensitive E. faecalis from Brazil were screened for the presence of virulence factor genes. Phenotypic assays were used to assess in vitro expression, to understand the pathogenic potential of these isolates and to determine whether a correlation exists between virulence and antibiotic resistance. Different virulence profiles were found suggesting that the disseminating clone may have generated several variations. However, our study showed that one constellation of traits appeared most commonly: gelatinase, aggregation substance and esp (GEA). These factors are important because they have been implicated in cell aggregation and biofilm formation. Biofilm formation may promote the conjugation of plasmids harboring resistance and virulence genes, enhancing the probability of entry of new resistance genes into species. Curiously, the profile GEA was not exclusive to VREFS, it was the second most observed in VSEFS isolates from colonization and infection in hospitalized patients and also from rectal swabs of healthy volunteers. Such strains appear to represent the entry gateway to new resistance genes into E. faecalis and may contribute to the spreading of E. faecalis mainly in hospitals.

Keywords : Enterococcus faecalis; VRE; Esp; gelatinase; aggregation substance.

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