Diarrhoeagenic Escherichia coli (DEC) are an important cause of diarrhoea in children and are associated with high antibiotic resistance. However, there are few studies on the molecular mechanisms of resistance in this group of bacteria. The aim of this study was to determine the mechanisms associated with antibiotic resistance in the most common phenotypes of DEC. A total of 369 E. coli strains [commensal strains and DEC from children with ('DEC-diarrhoea') or without ('DEC-control') diarrhoea] isolated from children aged <1 year in periurban districts of Lima, Peru, were analysed. In total, 154 ampicillin-resistant strains (36 commensals, 33 DEC-control and 85 DEC-diarrhoea) were studied by PCR for the most prevalent resistance mechanisms to ampicillin, trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole (SXT), tetracycline and chloramphenicol as well as for integrase types 1 and 2. In addition, restriction fragment length polymorphism was performed for SXT-resistant strains. Commensal strains were more frequently resistant to nalidixic acid and ciprofloxacin (68% and 28%, respectively) than DEC strains (23% and 2%, respectively) (P < 0.05). DEC-diarrhoea strains were more frequently SXT-resistant (78%) compared with DEC-control strains (65%) and commensal strains (60%) (P < 0.05). The most frequent mechanisms of antibiotic resistance in DEC strains were: for β-lactams, blaTEM (31%; 37/118); for SXT, sul2 (48%; 49/103); for tetracycline, tetA (27%; 23/84); and for chloramphenicol, cat (80%; 28/35). The genes sul1 and dfrA1, related to SXT resistance, were more frequent in the DEC-diarrhoea group (41% and 28%, respectively) than in the other two groups (P < 0.05). There was a high diversity of resistance genes in DEC, including symptomatic strains.
- Antibiotic resistance mechanism
- Commensal E. coli
- Diarrhoeagenic E. coli