Bacterial Interactions as Detected by Pooled Antibiotic Susceptibility Testing (P-AST) in Polymicrobial Urine Specimens

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Journal of Surgical Urology


Introduction: Antimicrobial susceptibility is well characterized in monomicrobial infections, but bacterial species often coexist with other bacterial species. Antimicrobial susceptibility is often tested against single bacterial isolates; this approach ignores interactions between cohabiting bacteria that could impact susceptibility. Here, we use Pooled Antibiotic Susceptibility Testing to compare antimicrobial susceptibility patterns exhibited by polymicrobial and monomicrobial urine specimens obtained from patients with urinary tract infection symptoms.

Methods: Urine samples were collected from patients who had symptoms consistent with a urinary tract infection. Multiplex polymerase chain reaction testing was performed to identify and quantify 31 bacterial species. Antibiotic susceptibility was determined using a novel Pooled Antibiotic Susceptibility Testing method. Antibiotic resistance rates in polymicrobial specimens were compared with those in monomicrobial infections. Using a logistic model, resistance rates were estimated when specific bacterial species were present. To assess interactions between pairs of bacteria, the predicted resistance rates were compared when a pair of bacterial species were present versus when just one bacterial species was present.

Results: Urine specimens were collected from 3,124 patients with symptoms of urinary tract infection. Of these, multiplex polymerase chain reaction testing detected bacteria in 61.1% (1910) of specimens. Pooled Antibiotic Susceptibility Testing results were available for 70.8% (1352) of these positive specimens. Of these positive specimens, 43.9% (594) were monomicrobial, while 56.1% (758) were polymicrobial. The odds of resistance to ampicillin (p = 0.005), amoxicillin/clavulanate (p = 0.008), five different cephalosporins, vancomycin (p =

Conclusion: Bacterial interactions in polymicrobial specimens can result in antimicrobial susceptibility patterns that are not detected when bacterial isolates are tested by themselves. Optimizing an effective treatment regimen for patients with polymicrobial infections may depend on accurate identification of the constituent species, as well as results obtained by Pooled Antibiotic Susceptibility Testing.