Low-level glycopeptide resistance in methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus and how to test it

Peter Hawkey

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

6 Citations (Scopus)


Vancomycin resistance in Staphylococcus aureus has emerged over the last ten years due to varying mechanisms and giving variable levels of resistance to vancomycin. The most resistant strains (fortunately rare) bear the vanA gene cluster and these are generally recognisable as MICs of vancomycin are usually found to be in the range 32-64mg/L. It should be noted that some automated systems have failed to detect these isolates. The much more commonly encountered GISA and hGISA vancomycin resistant strains of MRSA and methicillin sensitive Staph. aureus (MSSA) exhibit lower levels of resistance and difficulty is encountered in reliably defining and identifying these strains in clinical laboratories. No single completely reliable, convenient test either phonotypical genetic currently exists which can be readily applied in the clinical laboratory for the detection of hGISA/GISA. The population analysis profile (PAP) method is currently regarded as the reference method but is slow and tedious to perform on a large number of isolates. This enables the differentiation of hGISA and GISA from fully vancomycin sensitive strains. In the clinical laboratory the use of Meuller-Hinton agar with 5mg/L teicoplanin and a 10 mu L innoculum of MacFarland 0.5 incubated for 48h represents the most reliable and economical screening test. Further confirmation would be required using either macrodilution Etest methodology using an MIC >= 8mg/L of vancomycin and/or teicoplanin as the cut off for hGISA or the newer GRD (glycopeptide resistance detection) strip.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2-9
Number of pages8
JournalClinical Microbiology and Infection
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2009


  • hGISA
  • laboratory testing
  • glycopeptide resistance
  • visa
  • Staphylococcus aureus
  • review
  • GISA


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