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Antimicrobial Resistance in the 21st Century: A Multifaceted Challenge

[ Vol. 21 , Issue. 4 ]


O. Nolte   Pages 330 - 335 ( 6 )


Antimicrobial resistance, the ability of (pathogenic) bacteria to withstand the action of antibiotic drugs, has recently been rated of having an impact on humans similar to that of global climate change. Indeed, during the last years medicine has faced the development of highly resistant bacterial strains, which were, as a consequence of worldwide travel activity, dispersed all over the globe. This is even more astonishing if taking into account that antibiotics were introduced into human medicine not even hundred years ago. Resistance covers different principle aspects, natural resistance, acquired resistance and clinical resistance. In the modern microbiology laboratory, antimicrobial resistance is determined by measuring the susceptibility of micro-organisms in vitro in the presence of antimicrobials. However, since the efficacy of an antibiotic depends on its pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamics properties, breakpoints are provided to translate minimal inhibitory concentration to categorical efficacy (i.e. susceptible or resistant). Resistance in one microorganism against one particular drug may drive treatment decisions of clinicians, thereby fostering selection pressure to resistance development against another antibiotic. Thereby, bacteria may acquire more and more resistance traits, ending up with multi-resistance. To this end, antimicrobial resistance becomes a public health concern, not only in terms of limited treatment options but also due to its economic burden. The current paper provides a summary of the main topics associated with antimicrobial resistance as an introduction to this special issue.


Antimicrobial resistance, appropriate treatment, clinical resistance, ESBL, MRSA, NDM-1, public health.


Labor Dr. Brunner, Microbiology & Molecular Biology, Mainaustraße 48 a/b, DE-78464 Konstanz, Germany.

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