Background: Coagulase-negative staphylococci (CoNS) are one of the most important causes of infections. Unlike Staphylococcus aureus, less is known about their pathogenic mechanisms. In the present study, we aimed to evaluate the presence of virulence genes among 98 CoNS isolated from blood cultures of inpatients.
Methods: The isolates were identified by MALDI-TOF MS (Bruker Daltonics, Bremen, Germany). PCR was performed to detect 29 virulence factors using specific primers for icaA, icaB, icaC, icaD, icaADB, aap, fbe, aae, sesI, atIE, hla, hlb, hld, gehC, gehD, sea, seb, sec, sed, see, seg, seh, sei, tst, eta, etb, etd, etx, and pvl genes. The VITEK2 system (bio-Merieux, France) and the BD Phoenix™ System (Becton Dickinson, USA) were used for antimicrobial susceptibility testing.
Results: Staphylococcus epidermidis was found to be the most virulent CoNS species. All isolates were negative for eta, etb, etd, sea, seb, sed, see, seg, sei, and pvl virulence genes. We detected up to 15 virulence genes in a single isolate. The most common gene was icaC (73.5%), followed by icaA (57.1%), icaD (56.1%), aap (55.1%), aae (52.0%), sesl (51.0%), gehC (50.0%), hld (50.0%), hlb (49.0%), fbe (44.9%), atIE (37.8%), icaADB (37.8%), gehD (34.7%), icaB (31.6%), hla (30.6%), etx (2.0%), sec (1.0%), seh (1.0%), and tst (1.0%).
Conclusions: We determined high rates of genes encoding biofilm formation. Only four isolates did not possess either the ica operon or aap gene. Although we found low rates of toxin-related genes, our data indicates that apart from biofilm formation, the CoNS isolates could express various virulence genes similar to those of Staphylococcus aureus.