High prevalence of metallo-β-lactamase-producing enterobactercloacae from three tertiary hospitals in china

Yimei Cai, Cha Chen, Mei Zhao, Xuegao Yu, Kai Lan, Kang Liao, Penghao Guo, Weizheng Zhang, Xingyan Ma, Yuting He, Jianming Zeng, Liang Chen, Wei Jia, Yi Wei Tang, Bin Huang

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33 Scopus citations


Enterobacter cloacae has recently emerged as one of the most common carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae. The emergence and spread of metallo-β-lactamase-producing E. cloacae have posed an immediate threat globally. Here, we investigated the molecular characteristics of 84 carbapenem-resistant Enterobacter cloacae (CREL) collected from three tertiary hospitals in China between 2012 and 2016. Species identification and antimicrobial susceptibility testing were performed using a VITEK-2 system. Carbapenems, polymyxins B, and tigecycline were tested by broth microdilution method. The carbapenem in activation method (CIM) and cefoxitin three-dimensional test were used to detect carbapenemase and AmpC β-lactamase, respectively. Isolates were screened for β-lactam resistance genes by PCR, and expression of ompC and ompF was determined by qRT-PCR. Genetic relatedness was performed by pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) and multilocus sequence typing (MLST), while selected isolates were subjected to whole-genome sequencing. Among the 84 CREL isolates, 50 (59.5%) were detected as carbapenemase producers. NDM-1 was the dominant carbapenemase (80.0%), followed by IMP-26 (8.0%) and IMP-4 (6.0%). Notably, we identified the first NDM-1 and IMP-1 co-producing E. cloacae, carrying plasmids of several incompatibility (Inc) groups, including IncHI2, IncHI2A, and IncN. Most isolates showed decreased expression of ompC and/or ompF, and contained a broad distribution of ESBLs and AmpC β-lactamases. These findings suggested that different molecular mechanisms, including carbapenemase, ESBL and/or AmpC plus loss of porins, have contributed to carbapenem resistance. The blaNDM−1-harboring plasmids contained highly conserved gene environment around blaNDM−1 (blaNDM−1-bleMBL-trpF-dsbD-cutA1-groES-groEL), which could be associated with the potential dissemination of blaNDM−1. IMP-type MBL was located within a variety of integrons and usually contained various gene cassettes encoding multidrug resistance. These isolates produced 54 different pulsotypes, and were classified into 42 STs by MLST. Nineteen blaNDM−1-positive E. cloacae isolates obtained from Ningxia had the same pulsotype (PFGE type 1), belonging to ST78 within clonal complex 74 (CC74). The plasmid-based replicon typing indicated that IncX3 plasmids mediated the dissemination of blaNDM−1 among these homologous strains. This is the first report on the outbreak of NDM-1-producing E. cloacae ST78 with contribution of IncX3 plasmids in Northwestern China. There’s an immediate need to intensify surveillance attentively to prevent and control the further spread of NDM-1 in China.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1610
JournalFrontiers in Microbiology
Issue numberAUG
StatePublished - 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Microbiology
  • Microbiology (medical)


  • Carbapenem-resistant
  • Enterobacter cloacae
  • IncX3 plasmids
  • NDM-1
  • Outbreak investigation
  • ST78


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