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Clin Microbiol Infect. 2004 Mar;10(3):234-41.

Mechanisms of reduced susceptibility to amoxycillin-clavulanic acid in Escherichia coli strains from the health region of Tortosa (Catalonia, Spain).

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Department of Clinical Analysis, Hospital de Tortosa Verge de la Cinta, Tortosa, Spain.


This study investigated the mechanisms involved in reduced susceptibility to amoxycillin-clavulanic acid and the prevalence of enzymes compatible with inhibitor-resistant TEM (IRT) beta-lactamases produced by Escherichia coli isolates from patients in north-eastern Spain. The resistance mechanisms of 158 strains showing resistance or intermediate resistance to amoxycillin-clavulanic acid among 1122 ampicillin-resistant clinical isolates of E. coli were assessed on the basis of their beta-lactam resistance phenotypes. beta-Lactamases produced by strains showing resistant phenotypes suggestive of inhibitor-resistant penicillinase production were characterised by their isoelectric point. Specific activity and the concentration of clavulanic acid required to inhibit beta-lactamase activity by 50% (IC50) were determined in strains harbouring enzymes that focused at pI 5.2 or 5.4 in order to achieve presumptive identification of IRT beta-lactamases. Resistance phenotypes were consistent with overproduction of TEM-1, TEM-2 or SHV-1 beta-lactamases in 56 strains, with AmpC cephalosporinase hyperproduction in 46 strains, and with production of inhibitor-resistant penicillinases in 49 strains. Of the latter isolates, 17 produced moderately high or high levels of enzymes co-focusing with TEM-1, 17 produced enzymes co-focusing with OXA-1 (n = 12) or with PSE-1 (n = 5), either alone or in association with TEM-1, while only 15 produced enzymes with a phenotype characteristic of IRT beta-lactamases. It was concluded that resistance to amoxycillin-clavulanic acid in E. coli isolates from this area was mainly associated with presumptive overproduction of TEM-1, TEM-2 or SHV-1 beta-lactamases (46%) or of AmpC cephalosporinase (29%), while the occurrence of enzymes categorised as IRT beta-lactamases was unusual (9.5%).

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