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08.08.2020 | Original Paper | Ausgabe 6/2020 Open Access

Infection 6/2020

Intrinsic resistance to terbinafine among human and animal isolates of Trichophyton mentagrophytes related to amino acid substitution in the squalene epoxidase

Infection > Ausgabe 6/2020
Dominik Łagowski, Sebastian Gnat, Aneta Nowakiewicz, Marcelina Osińska, Mariusz Dyląg



Dermatomycoses are the most common fungal infections in the world affecting a significant part of the human and animal population. The majority of zoophilic infections in humans are caused by Trichophyton mentagrophytes. Currently, the first-line drug for both oral and topical therapy is terbinafine. However, an increasing number of cases that are difficult to be cured with this drug have been noted in Europe and Asia. Resistance to terbinafine and other allylamines is very rare and usually correlated with point mutations in the squalene epoxidase gene resulting in single amino acid substitutions in the enzyme, which is crucial in the ergosterol synthesis pathway.


Here, we report terbinafine-resistant T. mentagrophytes isolates among which one was an etiological factor of tinea capitis in a man and three were obtained from asymptomatic foxes in Poland.


We used the CLSI protocol to determine antifungal susceptibility profiles of naftifine, amphotericin B, griseofulvin, ketoconazole, miconazole, itraconazole, voriconazole, and ciclopirox. Moreover, the squalene epoxidase gene of the terbinafine-resistant strains was sequenced and analysed.


In the genomes of all four resistant strains exhibiting elevated MICs to terbinafine (16 to 32 µg/ml), single-point mutations leading to Leu393Phe substitution in the squalene epoxidase enzyme were revealed. Among the other tested substances, a MIC50 value of 1 µg/ml was shown only for griseofulvin.


Finally, our study revealed that the terbinafine resistance phenomenon might not be acquired by exposure to the drug but can be intrinsic. This is evidenced by the description of the terbinafine-resistant strains isolated from the asymptomatic animals.

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