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Antimicrobial susceptibility/resistance and genetic characteristics of Neisseria gonorrhoeae isolates from Poland, 2010-2012

Beata Mlynarczyk-Bonikowska1, Agnieszka Beata Serwin2, Daniel Golparian3, Szymon Walter de Walthoffen4, Slawomir Majewski1, Marta Koper2, Magdalena Malejczyk1, Marius Domeika5 and Magnus Unemo3*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Dermatology and Venereology, Medical University of Warsaw, Warsaw, Poland

2 Department of Dermatology and Venereology, Medical University of Bialystok, Bialystok, Poland

3 WHO Collaborating Centre for Gonorrhoea and other STIs, National Reference Laboratory for Pathogenic Neisseria, Department of Laboratory Medicine, Microbiology, Örebro University Hospital, Örebro, Sweden

4 Department of Medical Microbiology, Medical University of Warsaw, Warsaw, Poland

5 Department of Prevention and Control of Communicable Diseases, Uppsala County Council, Uppsala, Sweden

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BMC Infectious Diseases 2014, 14:65  doi:10.1186/1471-2334-14-65

Published: 6 February 2014



In Poland, gonorrhoea has been a mandatorily reported infection since 1948, however, the reported incidences are likely underestimated. No antimicrobial resistance (AMR) data for Neisseria gonorrhoeae has been internationally reported in nearly four decades, and data concerning genetic characteristics of N. gonorrhoeae are totally lacking. The aims of this study were to investigate the AMR to previously and currently recommended gonorrhoea treatment options, the main genetic resistance determinant (penA) for extended-spectrum cephalosporins (ESCs), and genotypic distribution of N. gonorrhoeae isolates in Poland in 2010-2012.


N. gonorrhoeae isolates cultured in 2010 (n = 28), 2011 (n = 92) and 2012 (n = 108) in Warsaw and Bialystok, Poland, were examined using antimicrobial susceptibility testing (Etest), pyrosequencing of penA and N. gonorrhoeae multi-antigen sequence typing (NG-MAST).


The proportions of N. gonorrhoeae isolates showing resistance were as follows: ciprofloxacin 61%, tetracycline 43%, penicillin G 22%, and azithromycin 8.8%. No isolates resistant to ceftriaxone, cefixime or spectinomycin were found. However, the proportion of isolates with an ESC MIC = 0.125 mg/L, i.e. at the resistance breakpoint, increased significantly from none in 2010 to 9.3% and 19% in 2012 for ceftriaxone and cefixime, respectively. Furthermore, 3.1% of the isolates showed multidrug resistance, i.e., resistance to ciprofloxacin, penicillin G, azithromycin, and decreased susceptibility to cefixime (MIC = 0.125 mg/L). Seventy-six isolates (33%) possessed a penA mosaic allele and 14 isolates (6.1%) contained an A501V/T alteration in penicillin-binding protein 2. NG-MAST ST1407 (n = 58, 25% of isolates) was the most prevalent ST, which significantly increased from 2010 (n = 0) to 2012 (n = 46; 43%).


In Poland, the diversified gonococcal population displayed a high resistance to most antimicrobials internationally previously recommended for gonorrhoea treatment and decreasing susceptibility to the currently recommended ESCs. The decreasing susceptibility to ESCs was mostly due to the introduction of the internationally spread multidrug-resistant NG-MAST ST1407 in 2011. It is essential to promptly revise the gonorrhoea treatment guidelines, improve the gonorrhoea laboratory diagnostics, and implement quality assured surveillance of gonococcal AMR (ideally also treatment failures) in Poland.

Neisseria gonorrhoeae; Gonorrhoea; Poland; Antimicrobial resistance (AMR); Extended-spectrum cephalosporins (ESCs); Ceftriaxone; Cefixime; penA; NG-MAST