Comprehensive phenotypic and genotypic characterization and comparison of virulence, biofilm, and antimicrobial resistance in urinary Escherichia coli isolated from canines
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Urinary tract infections (UTIs) affect nearly half of women and an estimated 14 % of the canine companion animal population at least once in their lifetime. As with humans, Escherichia coli is the most commonly isolated bacteria from canine UTIs and infections are dominated by specific phylogenetic groups with notable virulence attributes. In this study, we evaluated uropathogenic E. coli (UPEC) (n = 69) isolated from canine UTIs phenotypically and genotypically for virulence factors, biofilm formation and antimicrobial resistance profiles. Biofilm formation in UPEC strains was positively associated with common virulence factors including papG (p = 0.006), fimH (p < 0.0001), sfaS (p = 0.004), focA (p = 0.004), cnf-1 (p = 0.009) and hlyA (p = 0.006). There was a negative association between biofilm formation and phenotypic antimicrobial resistance for ampicillin (p < 0.0004), ciprofloxacin (p < 0.0001), and trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole (p < 0.02), as well as multidrug resistance (isolates resistant to 3 classes of antimicrobials) (p < 0.0002), and the presence of extended spectrum beta-lactamase (ESBL)-producing genes (p < 0.05). In conclusion, UPECs isolated from clinical cases of canine UTIs show a broad negative association between antimicrobial resistance and biofilm formation, and this observation is supported both by phenotypic and genotypic endpoints. As the biofilm formation may result in antimicrobial tolerance, this could be a secondary evasive tactic of UPEC lacking traditional antimicrobial resistance traits. This observation is important for veterinary practitioners to consider when treating puzzling chronic intractable and/or recurrent cases of UTI that appear to be susceptible to antimicrobial therapy via traditional antimicrobial susceptibility testing (AST) methods.