Tolerance to vancomycin in pneumococci: Detection with a molecular marker and assessment of clinical impact

Carina A. Rodriguez, Robyn Atkinson, Wally Bitar, Cynthia G. Whitney, Kathryn M. Edwards, Lauren Mitchell, Juan Li, Jack Sublett, Chin-Shang Li, Tiebin Liu, F. Joan Chesney, Elaine I. Tuomanen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


Background. Vancomycin is often added to therapy for meningitis caused by Streptococcus pneumoniae. Tolerant bacteria without classic resistance that escape killing by multiple antibiotics have been reported sporadically. We determined the prevalence of tolerance to vancomycin in pneumococci and its effect on the outcome of meningitis. Methods. Archival samples of 215 nasopharyngeal (NP) and 113 meningitis isolates were tested for the killing efficacy of vancomycin. Specific DNA sequence changes in a transporter locus were identified for tolerant isolates. Similar tests were conducted prospectively on 517 NP isolates from healthy children. Results. In archival isolates, tolerance to vancomycin was detected in 3.7% of NP and 10.6% of invasive isolates. Patients with meningitis caused by tolerant isolates had a worse estimated 30-day survival than did patients with meningitis caused by nontolerant isolates (49% vs. 86%; P = .048); 62.5% of tolerant archival NP isolates harbored a specific sequence change for pep27 and vex2 (P = .021). Prospective analysis of 517 carriage isolates indicated that 8.1% were tolerant to vancomycin and that 82.1% of tolerant isolates harbored the specified marker gene sequences (P = .001). Conclusions. Tolerance to vancomycin exists in the population of pneumococci. Tolerant isolates are associated with meningitis of increased mortality, and these isolates can be tracked by specific marker sequences in 2 genes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1481-1487
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Infectious Diseases
Issue number8
StatePublished - Oct 15 2004
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Immunology


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