MRSA & The Gut Microbiome

MRSA, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, is a pathogen that can cause life-threatening hospital and community-acquired infections. You can read about other pathogens here.

S. aureus is a Gram-positive, spherical bacterium that is commonly found on the skin and in the respiratory tract. It is the leading cause of skin and soft tissue infections such as boils and cellulitis.

Cellulitis is one of those infections that can progress rapidly and become dangerous, so do not delay in seeking treatment if you experience swollen, red, tender, hot areas in the skin that spread quickly. Although most staph infections are not serious, S. aureus can cause serious infections such as bloodstream infections, pneumonia, or bone and joint infections.

According to the US CDC, studies show that about one in three (33%) people carry Staphylococcus in their nose, usually without any illness. Two in 100 people carry the methicillin-resistant strains. The CDC also states, "Invasive MRSA infections that began in hospitals declined 54% between 2005 and 2011... In addition, the study showed 9,000 fewer deaths in hospital patients in 2011 versus 2005." Nonetheless, despite these comforting figures, which are disputed by some scientists, methicillin-resistant S. aureus infections pose a significant threat worldwide.

There are many different strains of Staphylococcus aureus that are methicillin-resistant making quick identification of the cause of an infection important.

What makes someone succumb to methicillin-resistant S. aureus? The gut microbiome status may play an important role in answering that question. This page is a collection of studies on methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus and the gut microbiome.

MRSA & Gut Microbiome Dysbiosis

Summary: An increase of potential pathogens & decrease of beneficial bacteria, especially short-chain fatty acid producers (SCFA) producers, may decide the prognosis of someone with the infection. 

A small study of 15 individuals with and 15 without MRSA infections showed that both richness and diversity were lower in the group with the infection. Acinetobacter and Enterococcus populations were enhanced, while SCFA (short-chain fatty acid) producers were in decreased numbers. At the species level, Acinetobacter baumannii and Bacteroides thetaiotaomicron were widespread in infected individuals, while 17 species, including Faecalibacterium prausnitzii, Lactobacillus rogosae (which may not be a true Lactobacillus afterall), Megamonas rupellensis, and Phascolarctobacterium faecium were higher in participants without the infection. Increases in erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) and hypersenstitive C-reactive protein (hCRP), both measures of inflammation, were higher with higher A. baumannii. Measures of ESR, hCRP and total bile acids were lower with increasing F. prausnitzii.

The researchers concluded that the fecal microbiota structure was different between patients who had and did not have methicillin-resistant S. aureus infection. They acknowledged that the  increase in potential pathogens with the reduction of beneficial populations, such as SCFA-producing bacteria, in infected patients may forecast the likely course of the infection.

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