Open Access Open Badges Research article

Efflux pumps expression and its association with porin down-regulation and β-lactamase production among Pseudomonas aeruginosa causing bloodstream infections in Brazil

Danilo E Xavier*, Renata C Picão, Raquel Girardello, Lorena CC Fehlberg and Ana C Gales

Author Affiliations

Division of Infectious Diseases, Universidade Federal de São Paulo, Rua Pedro de Toledo, 781, 04039-032, São Paulo, Brazil

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BMC Microbiology 2010, 10:217  doi:10.1186/1471-2180-10-217

Published: 12 August 2010



Multi-drug efflux pumps have been increasingly recognized as a major component of resistance in P. aeruginosa. We have investigated the expression level of efflux systems among clinical isolates of P. aeruginosa, regardless of their antimicrobial susceptibility profile.


Aztreonam exhibited the highest in vitro activity against the P. aeruginosa isolates studied (64.4% susceptibility), whereas susceptibility rates of imipenem and meropenem were both 47.5%. The MexXY-OprM and MexAB-OprM efflux systems were overexpressed in 50.8% and 27.1% of isolates studied, respectively. Overexpression of the MexEF-OprN and MexCD-OprJ systems was not observed. AmpC β-lactamase was overexpressed in 11.9% of P. aeruginosa isolates. In addition, decreased oprD expression was also observed in 69.5% of the whole collection, and in 87.1% of the imipenem non-susceptible P. aeruginosa clinical isolates. The MBL-encoding genes blaSPM-1 and blaIMP-1 were detected in 23.7% and 1.7% P. aeruginosa isolates, respectively. The blaGES-1 was detected in 5.1% of the isolates, while blaGES-5 and blaCTX-M-2 were observed in 1.7% of the isolates evaluated. In the present study, we have observed that efflux systems represent an adjuvant mechanism for antimicrobial resistance.


Efflux systems in association of distinct mechanisms such as the porin down-regulation, AmpC overproduction and secondary β-lactamases play also an important role in the multi-drug resistance phenotype among P. aeruginosa clinical isolates.