[Source: mBio, full page: (LINK). Abstract, edited.]
Acquisition and Loss of CTX-M-Producing and Non-Producing Escherichia coli in the Fecal Microbiome of Travelers to South Asia
Edward R. Bevan, Alan McNally, Christopher M. Thomas, Laura J. V. Piddock, Peter M. Hawkey
George A. Jacoby, Editor
Over 80% of travelers from the United Kingdom to the Indian subcontinent acquire CTX-M-producing Escherichia coli (CTX-M-EC), but the mechanism of CTX-M-EC acquisition is poorly understood. We aimed to investigate the dynamics of CTX-M-EC acquisition in healthy travelers and how this relates to populations of non-CTX-M-EC in the fecal microbiome. This is a prospective observational study of healthy volunteers traveling from the United Kingdom to South Asia. Fecal samples were collected pre- and post-travel at several time points up to 12 months post-travel. A toothpicking experiment was used to determine the proportion of cephalosporin-sensitive E. coli in fecal samples containing CTX-M-EC. MLST and SNP type of pre-travel and post-travel E. coli were deduced by WGS. CTX-M-EC was acquired by 89% (16/18) of volunteers. Polyclonal acquisition of CTX-M-EC was seen in 8/15 volunteers (all had >3 STs across post-travel samples), suggesting multiple acquisition events. Indistinguishable CTX-M-EC clones (zero SNPs apart) are detectable in serial fecal samples up to 7 months after travel, indicating stable maintenance in the fecal microbiome on return to the United Kingdom in the absence of selective pressure. CTX-M-EC-containing samples were often co-colonized with novel, non-CTX-M strains after travel, indicating that acquisition of non-CTX-M-EC occurs alongside CTX-M-EC. The same pre-travel non-CTX-M strains (<10 SNPs apart) were found in post-travel fecal samples after CTX-M-EC had been lost, suggesting return of the fecal microbiome to the pre-travel state and long-term persistence of minority strains in travelers who acquire CTX-M-EC.
Escherichia coli strains which produce CTX-M extended-spectrum beta-lactamases are endemic as colonizers of humans and in the environment in South Asia. This study demonstrates that acquisition of CTX-M-producing E. coli (CTX-M-EC) in travelers from the United Kingdom to South Asia is polyclonal, which is likely due to multiple acquisition events from contaminated food and drinking water during travel. CTX-M-EC frequently persists in the fecal microbiome for at least 1 year after acquisition, often alongside newly acquired non-CTX-M E. coli strains. In travelers who acquire CTX-M-EC, pre-travel non-CTX-M E. coli remains as a minority population in the gut until the CTX-M-EC strains are lost. The non-CTX-M strains are then reestablished as the predominant E. coli population. This study has shed light on the dynamics of CTX-M-EC acquisition, colonization, and loss after travel. Future work involving manipulation of nonvirulent resident E. coli could be used to prevent colonization with antibiotic-resistant E. coli.
Keywords: Antibiotics; Drugs Resistance; Cephalosporins; E. Coli; UK; Asian region.