Journal Article

Hypermutation as a Factor Contributing to the Acquisition of Antimicrobial Resistance

George M. Eliopoulos and Jesús Blázquez

in Clinical Infectious Diseases

Published on behalf of Infectious Diseases Society of America

Volume 37, issue 9, pages 1201-1209
Published in print November 2003 | ISSN: 1058-4838
Published online November 2003 | e-ISSN: 1537-6591 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1086/378810
Hypermutation as a Factor Contributing to the Acquisition of Antimicrobial Resistance

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Contrary to what was thought previously, bacteria seem to be, not merely spectators to their own evolution, but, through a variety of mechanisms, able to increase the rate at which mutations occur and, consequently, to increase their chances of becoming resistant to antibiotics. Laboratory studies and mathematical models suggest that, under stressful conditions, such as antibiotic challenge, selective pressure favors mutator strains of bacteria over nonmutator strains. These hypermutable strains have been found in natural bacterial populations at higher frequencies than expected. The presence of mutator strains in the clinical setting may indicate an enhanced risk of acquiring antibiotic resistance through mutational and recombinational events. In addition, some antibiotics are inducers of mechanisms that transiently increase the mutation rate, and thus probably act, not only as mere selectors of antibiotic resistant clones, but also as resistance-promoters.

Journal Article.  6611 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Infectious Diseases ; Immunology ; Public Health and Epidemiology ; Microbiology

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