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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Beta-lactamase inhibitors from laboratory to clinic.

beta-Lactamases constitute the major defense mechanism of pathogenic bacteria against beta-lactam antibiotics. When the beta-lactam ring of this antibiotic class is hydrolyzed, antimicrobial activity is destroyed. Although beta-lactamases have been identified with clinical failures for over 40 years, enzymes with various abilities to hydrolyze specific penicillins or cephalosporins are appearing more frequently in clinical isolates. One approach to counteracting this resistance mechanism has been through the development of beta-lactamase inactivators. beta-Lactamase inhibitors include clavulanic acid and sulbactam, molecules with minimal antibiotic activity. However, when combined with safe and efficacious penicillins or cephalosporins, these inhibitors can serve to protect the familiar beta-lactam antibiotics from hydrolysis by penicillinases or broad-spectrum beta-lactamases. Both of these molecules eventually inactivate the target enzymes permanently. Although clavulanic acid exhibits more potent inhibitory activity than sulbactam, especially against the TEM-type broad-spectrum beta-lactamases, the spectrum of inhibitory activities are very similar. Neither of these inhibitors acts as a good inhibitor of the cephalosporinases. Clavulanic acid has been most frequently combined with amoxicillin in the orally active Augmentin and with ticarcillin in the parenteral beta-lactam combination Timentin. Sulbactam has been used primarily to protect ampicillin from enzymatic hydrolysis. Sulbactam has been used either in the orally absorbed prodrug form as sultamicillin or as the injectable combination ampicillin-sulbactam. Synergy has been demonstrated for these combinations for most members of the Enterobacteriaceae, although those organisms that produce cephalosporinases are not well inhibited. Synergy has also been observed for Neisseria gonorrhoeae, Haemophilus influenzae, penicillinase-producing Staphylococcus aureus, and anaerobic organisms. These antibiotic combinations have been used clinically to treat urinary tract infections, bone and soft-tissue infections, gonorrhea, respiratory infections, and otitis media. Gastrointestinal side effects have been reported for Augmentin and sultamicillin; most side effects with these agents have been mild. Although combination therapy with beta-lactamase inactivators has been used successfully, the problem of resistance development to two agents must be considered. Induction of cephalosporinases can occur with clavulanic acid. Permeability mutants could arise, especially with added pressure from a second beta-lactam.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)[1]


  1. Beta-lactamase inhibitors from laboratory to clinic. Bush, K. Clin. Microbiol. Rev. (1988) [Pubmed]
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