Original Article|Articles in Press

Detecting the performance of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus by a molecular diagnostic assay in positive blood culture: Influence of coexistence of mecA-positive bacteria and diversity in orfX-SCCmec junction region in methicillin-susceptible S. aureus



      In blood cultures that test positive for staphylococcal bacteria, rapid identification of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) or methicillin-susceptible Staphylococcus aureus (MSSA) by molecular assay is useful for appropriate antimicrobial treatment of bloodstream infections. Although the Xpert MRSA/SA BC assay is widely available in clinical settings in Japan, its efficacy has not yet evaluated thoroughly.


      We retrospectively studied 100 blood culture cases positive for S. aureus at Sapporo Medical University Hospital between March 2019 and May 2022. Cycle threshold (CT) values for target genes from the Xpert MRSA/SA BC assay were compared to phenotypic results. Genotyping and genetic analysis of the orfX-SCCmec junction region was performed for selected isolates.


      We analyzed 25 and 75 isolates assigned to MRSA and MSSA, respectively, using the Xpert MRSA/SA BC assay. Of these, 99 isolates from agar cultures showed compatible susceptibility to oxacillin. One genetically misidentified case of MRSA was found to be caused by the mixed growth of MSSA and methicillin-resistant S. hominis on agar culture. Of the 73 MSSA with pure growth on agar culture, 45 (61.6%) were found to be orfX-SCCmec-positive, spa-positive, and mecA-negative in this assay. These MSSA belong to diverse spa and coa types.


      The Xpert MRSA/SA BC assay accurately identified MRSA and MSSA in positive blood cultures. However, over half of the MSSA isolates showed positive results for orfX-SCCmec, presumably due to genetic diversity in the orfX-associated region of MSSA. Therefore, the coexistence of MSSA and mecA-harboring coagulase-negative staphylococci may cause confusion about identification of MRSA.


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