Genomic and Phenotypic Analysis of Linezolid-Resistant Staphylococcus epidermidis in a Tertiary Hospital in Innsbruck, Austria


Whole genome sequencing is a useful tool to monitor the spread of resistance mechanisms in bacteria. In this retrospective study, we investigated genetic resistance mechanisms, sequence types (ST) and respective phenotypes of linezolid-resistant Staphylococcus epidermidis (LRSE, n = 129) recovered from a cohort of patients receiving or not receiving linezolid within a tertiary hospital in Innsbruck, Austria. Hereby, the point mutation G2603U in the 23S rRNA (n = 91) was the major resistance mechanism followed by the presence of plasmid-derived cfr (n = 30). The majority of LRSE isolates were ST2 strains, followed by ST5. LRSE isolates expressed a high resistance level to linezolid with a minimal inhibitory concentration of ≥256 mg/L (n = 83) in most isolates, particularly in strains carrying the cfr gene (p < 0.001). Linezolid usage was the most prominent (but not the only) trigger for the development of linezolid resistance. However, administration of linezolid was not associated with a specific resistance mechanism. Restriction of linezolid usage and the monitoring of plasmid-derived cfr in LRSE are potential key steps to reduce linezolid resistance and its transmission to more pathogenic Gram-positive bacteria.