Non-antibiotic antimicrobial triclosan induces multiple antibiotic resistance through genetic mutation

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Mutations led to resistance by up-regulating beta-lactamase and multi-drug efflux pump.

Antibiotic resistance poses a major threat to public health. Overuse and misuse of antibiotics are generally recognized as the key factors contributing to antibiotic resistance. However, whether non-antibiotic, anti-microbial (NAAM) chemicals can directly induce antibiotic resistance is unclear. We aim to investigate whether the exposure to a NAAM chemical triclosan (TCS) has an impact on inducing antibiotic resistance on Escherichia coli. Here, we report that at a concentration of 0.2 mg/L TCS induces multi-drug resistance in wild-type Escherichia coli after 30-day TCS exposure.

The oxidative stress induced by TCS caused genetic mutations in genes such as fabI, frdD, marR, acrR and soxR, and subsequent up-regulation of the transcription of genes encoding beta-lactamases and multi-drug efflux pumps, together with down-regulation of genes related to membrane permeability. The findings advance our understanding of the potential role of NAAM chemicals in the dissemination of antibiotic resistance in microbes, and highlight the need for controlling biocide applications.