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A resistência a antibióticos está se espalhando a partir de ETEs

Verificou-se que os produtos do tratamento de efluentes contêm traços de DNA resistente a antibióticos.

Estes produtos são frequentemente reintroduzidos no meio ambiente e abastecimento de água, resultando potencialmente na disseminação da resistência aos antibióticos. Como tal, pesquisadores da University of Southern California Viterbi School of Engineering vêm estudando o desenvolvimento desses genes potencialmente nocivos e perigosos em processos no tratamento de efluentes. Suas descobertas, publicadas na Environmental Science & Technology, indicam que mesmo baixas concentrações de apenas um único tipo de antibiótico, leva à resistência de múltiplas classes de antibióticos.

“Estamos chegando rapidamente a uma situação assustadora, chamada de “mundo pós-antibiótico “, onde já não podemos mais combater infecções com antibióticos porque os micróbios se adaptaram a ser resilientes contra esses antibióticos”, disse Adam Smith, professor assistente de engenharia ambiental na USC e principal pesquisador do estudo. “Infelizmente, os sistemas de tratamento de água acabam sendo uma espécie de hot-bed (ambiente que promove o crescimento de algo, especialmente indesejável) para resistência aos antibióticos.”

A maioria dos antibióticos que consumimos são metabolizados no nosso corpo. No entanto, pequenas quantidades são excretadas e transportados para as estações de tratamento de efluentes. Nessas estações, uma das maneiras comuns onde os efluentes são tratados é por meio de um biorreator de membrana, que utiliza um sistema de filtração e um processo biológico onde as bactérias microscópicas consomem a matéria orgânica.

Ao consumir a matéria orgânica, a bactéria encontra os antibióticos e expressa genes de resistência que reduzem a eficácia destes medicamentos. Estes genes da resistência podem então ser passados da célula mãe para a célula filha e entre vizinhos através de um processo conhecido como transferência horizontal de genes (processo em que um organismo transfere material genético para outra célula que não é sua descendente).

Conforme a bactéria se alimenta, reproduz e cresce, acumula-se um excesso chamado biomassa. Uma típica estação de tratamento de efluentes produz toneladas de biomassa diariamente. Uma vez tratado, ele é descartado em aterros sanitários ou usado como fertilizante para a agricultura e a pecuária.

Imagem aérea de ETE – Imagem: ISTOCK

Em um cenário ainda mais terrível, pequenas quantidades de bactérias resistentes a antibióticos e DNA flutuantes conseguem atravessar a membrana de filtração e sair da estação de tratamento no que é chamado de efluente tratado, ou o fluxo de água que sai da ETE. Em Los Angeles / EUA, parte será despejado no Rio Los Angeles e Oceano Pacífico, enquanto o restante é reutilizado para irrigação, lavagem de carros, combate a incêndios ou para fornecer o reabastecimento de águas subterrâneas, uma fonte comum de água potável.

A equipe, também incluindo Ali Zarei-Baygi, o primeiro autor do estudo e doutorando na USC, Moustapha Harb, bolsista de pós-doutorado na USC, Philip Wang, Doutorando na USC, e Lauren Stadler, professora assistente da Rice University, acreditam que a quantidade de organismos resistentes aos antibióticos formados em ETEs poderiam ser reduzidos através de alterações nos processos de tratamento. Por exemplo, empregando processos livres de oxigênio, ou anaeróbios, em vez de processos aeróbios, e usando filtração por membrana.

Assim, para essa pesquisa, eles usaram um biorreator de membrana anaeróbio em pequena escala e compararam os perfis de resistência aos antibióticos resultante na biomassa e no efluente entre si e com as diferentes concentrações e tipos de antibióticos que introduziram no sistema.

Duas descobertas chaves

Eles realizaram duas descobertas chaves: a resistência na biomassa e no efluente são diferentes e, portanto, não se pode usar um para prever o outro; e as correlações encontradas entre o antibiótico adicionado e os genes de resistência nem sempre foram bem definidas. De fato, seus resultados indicaram resistência a múltiplas drogas, na qual as bactérias tinham genes que permitiam a resistência de várias classes de antibióticos.

“A resistência a múltiplas drogas parece ser o impacto mais alarmante “, disse Smith. “Independentemente da influência dos antibióticos, seja apenas uma ou em concentrações muito baixas, é provável que haja muita resistência a múltiplas drogas se espalhando”.

Eles acreditam que isso é devido à presença de elementos genéticos chamados plasmídeos. Um plasmídeo pode transportar genes de resistência para diferentes tipos de antibióticos, resultando em correlações positivas entre um tipo de antibiótico e o gene de resistência de outro. Isso não só complica mais as coisas, como pode ser extremamente perigoso. Devido ao seu tamanho extremamente pequeno – 1.000 vezes menor que as bactérias – os plasmídeos flutuantes podem facilmente passar pelo processo de filtração no processo de tratamento e sair no efluente da ETE.

A equipe no momento analisa com mais atenção, a composição do efluente e planeja aplicar o conhecimento a outros fluxos de resíduos, como de animais, por meio de uma parceria com o USDA (U.S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE).

 

Fonte: Portal Tratamento de Água

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