Background: Pediatric sepsis due to Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) is associated with high morbidity and mortality. Accessory-Gene-Regulator (agr) has a role in the pathogenesis of S. aureus through controlling and regulating the expression of virulence genes. Therefore, the aim of the present study was to investigate the prevalence of genotypes of the agr system in S. aureus isolated from children with sepsis and to assess their relationship to biofilm formation and antibiotic resistance.
Methods: The study was a retrograde cross-sectional study that included 131 children with health care associated sepsis due to S. aureus. The isolated S. aureus was investigated for their ability to form biofilm by microplate method, antibiotic susceptibility pattern by disc diffusion method, and molecular determination of agr genotypes by polymerase chain reaction (PCR).
Results: Methicillin resistant S. aureus (MRSA) was defined by resistance to cefoxitin antibiotic disc in 70 (53.4%) of the isolates and biofilm formation was positive in 67 (58%) of the isolates. Molecular study of the agr genes revealed that 54 (41.2%), 40 (30.5%), 27 (20.6%), and 10 (7.5%) of the studied isolates had agr I, agr II, agr III, and agr IV, respectively. In comparison between MRSA and methicillin sensitive S. aureus (MSSA), there was a signif-icant increase in biofilm formation among MRSA (65.7%, p = 0.01) compared to MSSA (34.3%) and an increase in agr genotype I among MRSA (68.6%, p = 0.001) compared to agr I in MSSA (9.8%). There was a significant association with the presence of a central venous catheter (51.4%, p = 0.001) and urinary tract catheter (81.4%, p = 0.001) in children with MRSA compared to children with MSSA (21.3%, OR = 3.9, 95% CI = 1.8 - 8.5 and 36.1%, OR = 7.8, 95% CI 3.5 - 17.3, respectively).
Conclusions: There was an increase in the biofilm formation among S. aureus isolated from pediatric patients with sepsis with a significant increase in MRSA. The agr group I was the main agr gene among the isolated S. aureus. Moreover, agr I was the predominant gene in MRSA isolates and was significantly associated with biofilm formation.