Convergence of multiple resistance and hypervirulence in Klebsiella pneumoniae

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Since 2018, Klebsiella pneumoniae isolates have been described in Russia, demonstrating the convergence of hypervirulent properties and multiple antibiotic resistance. The problem of the Klebsiella hypervirulent pathotype has been actualized relatively recently that was progressively described in the 1980s in the Pacific region. These Klebsiella spp. can cause serious community-acquired infections in healthy people, which fundamentally differs from the classic Klebsiella pathotype initially preserving sensitivity to most antibacterial drugs. In 2018–2020, there were reported detection of hypervirulent K. pneumoniae isolates in the Russian Federation. Like multiple resistance, hypervirulence is associated with the acquiring additional genetic material and formation of genetic lineages that effectively support such acquired determinants. For a long time, it was believed that the convergence of multiple resistance and hypervirulence is unlikely due to a large genetic burden as well as different ecological strategies in same species. The spread of hypervirulent strains, primarily in the Asian region, is associated with the conserved plasmids of the pLVPK “group”. The conservatism of both the originally discovered virulence plasmids (such as pLVPK and pK2044) and the genetic lineages associated with them (mainly CG23) is probably determined by the absence of a gene cluster responsible for conjugation in these plasmids. The driver of the spread of non-conjugative plasmids with determinants of hypervirulence is clonal spread, not horizontal gene transfer. Nevertheless, after a sufficiently long period of circulation of plasmids bearing markers of hypervirulence (described since 1986) in Klebsiella, a relatively limited number of genetic lineages, there were events of mobilization of the determinants of hypervirulence and, as a consequence, the inclusion in horizontal gene transfer in the population (described cases in 2016 ), which led to a sharp increase in the number of genetic lineages and variants of genetic platforms carrying hypervirulence genes. In Russia, first cases of hv-MDR-Kpn were described in 2018 in Moscow based on analyzing collection of Klebsiella isolated in 2012–2016. In 2020 and 2021, similar cases were described in St. Petersburg. In case of repeated pessimistic scenario observed over the last decade due to spread of carbapenemases, effectiveness of health care will be more than substantially harmed.

About the authors

Vladimir A. Ageevets

Paediatric Research and Clinical Centre for Infectious Diseases

ORCID iD: 0000-0002-3963-0144

PhD (Biology), Researcher, Research Department of Medical Microbiology and Molecular Epidemiology

Russian Federation, St. Petersburg

I. V. Ageevets

Paediatric Research and Clinical Centre for Infectious Diseases

ORCID iD: 0000-0002-3549-3525

PhD (Medicine), Researcher, Research Department of Medical Microbiology and Molecular Epidemiology

Russian Federation, St. Petersburg

S. V. Sidorenko

Paediatric Research and Clinical Centre for Infectious Diseases,

Author for correspondence.
ORCID iD: 0000-0003-3550-7875

PhD, MD (Medicine), Professor, Head of the Research Department of Medical Microbiology and Molecular Epidemiology

Russian Federation, St. Petersburg


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