Acquisition of antibiotic resistance is a relevant problem for human health. The selection and spread of antibiotic-resistant organisms not only compromise the treatment of infectious diseases, but also the implementation of different therapeutic procedures as organ transplantation, advanced surgery or chemotherapy, all of which require proficient methods for avoiding infections. It has been generally accepted that the acquisition of antibiotic resistance will produce a general metabolic burden: in the absence of selection, the resistant organisms would be outcompeted by the susceptible ones. If that was always true, discontinuation of antibiotic use would render the disappearance of resistant microorganisms. However, several studies have shown that, once resistance emerges, the recovery of a fully susceptible population even in the absence of antibiotics is not easy. In the present study, we review updated information on the effect of the acquisition of antibiotic resistance in bacterial physiology as well as on the mechanisms that allow the compensation of the fitness costs associated with the acquisition of resistance.

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