Staphylococcus aureus in the Intensive Care Unit: Are These Golden Grapes Ripe for a New Approach?

Georgia R. Sampedro, Juliane Bubeck Wardenburg

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Staphylococcus aureus is the leading cause of infection in the setting of critical illness and injury. This pathogen causes life-threatening infection in otherwise healthy individuals and also complicates the clinical course of patients requiring intensive care as a result of their primary medical or surgical disease processes. S. aureus infection in the intensive care unit (ICU) most commonly manifests as sepsis, ventilator-associated pneumonia, and infection of surgical sites and indwelling medical devices. With the epidemic spread of methicillin-resistant S. aureus, many cases of staphylococcal infection in the ICU are now classified as drug resistant, prompting hospital-based screening for methicillin-resistant S. aureus and implementation of both isolation practices and decolonization strategies in ICU patients. The genetic adaptability of S. aureus, heterogeneity of disease presentation, clinical course, and outcome between individual S. aureus-infected ICU patients remains enigmatic, suggesting a need to define disease classification subtypes that inform disease progression and therapy. We propose that S. aureus infection in the ICU now presents a unique opportunity for individualized risk stratification coupled with the investigation of novel approaches to mitigate disease. Given our increasing knowledge of the molecular pathogenesis of S. aureus disease, we suggest that the application of molecular pathological epidemiology to S. aureus infection can usher in a new era of highly focused personalized therapy that may be particularly beneficial in the setting of critical illness and injury.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)S64-S70
JournalThe Journal of infectious diseases
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 15 2017


  • Staphylococcus aureus
  • disease/molecular pathogenesis
  • emerging/designer therapies.
  • intensive care unit
  • molecular pathological epidemiology


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