Elevated prevalence of azole resistant Aspergillus fumigatus in urban versus rural environments in the United Kingdom.

Author: 

Sewell TR, Zhang Y, Brackin AP, Shelton JMG, Rhodes J, Fisher MC.
Antimicrob Agents Chemother. 2019 Jun 24. pii: AAC.00548-19.

Abstract: 

Azole resistance in the opportunistic pathogen Aspergillus fumigatus is increasing, dominated primarily by the following two environmentally associated resistance alleles: TR34/L98H and TR46/Y121F/T289A. By sampling soils across the South of England, we assess the prevalence of azole-resistant A. fumigatus (ARAf) in samples collected in both urban and rural locations. We characterize the susceptibility profiles of the resistant isolates to three medical azoles, identify the underlying genetic basis of resistance, and investigate their genetic relationships. ARAf was detected in 6.7% of the soil samples, with a higher prevalence in urban (13.8%) than rural (1.1%) locations. Twenty isolates were confirmed to exhibit clinical breakpoints for resistance to at least one of three medical azoles, with 18 isolates exhibiting resistance to itraconazole, 6 to voriconazole, and 2 showing elevated minimum inhibitory concentrations to posaconazole. Thirteen of the resistant isolates harbored the TR34/L98H resistance allele, and six isolates carried the TR46/Y121F/T289A allele. The 20 azole-resistant isolates were spread across five csp1 genetic subtypes, t01, t02, t04B, t09, and t18 with t02 being the predominant subtype. Our study demonstrates that ARAf can be easily isolated in the South of England, especially in urban city centers, which appear to play an important role in the epidemiology of environmentally linked drug-resistant A. fumigatus.