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Clin Microbiol Infect. 2010 Feb;16(2):132-6. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-0691.2009.02893.x. Epub 2009 Jul 15.

Comparative assessment of inoculum effects on the antimicrobial activity of amoxycillin-clavulanate and piperacillin-tazobactam with extended-spectrum beta-lactamase-producing and extended-spectrum beta-lactamase-non-producing Escherichia coli isolates.

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Department of Microbiology, University Hospital Virgen Macarena, Seville, Spain.


A significant inoculum-size effect has been observed with piperacillin-tazobactam, and has been associated with beta-lactamase production in extended-spectrum beta-lactamase (ESBL) producers. This association has not been previously studied in the case of amoxycillin-clavulanate. Piperacillin-tazobactam and amoxycillin-clavulanate were compared, using high inocula of susceptible strains either harbouring ESBLs or not. Two non-ESBL-producing and 15 amoxycillin-clavulanate-susceptible and piperacillin-tazobactam-susceptible ESBL-producing Escherichia coli isolates, and their respective transconjugants, were tested in dilution susceptibility tests using standard and 100-fold higher inocula. Three ESBL-producing strains and E. coli ATCC 25922 were selected for time-kill studies using standard and high initial inocula. At high inocula, MICs of piperacillin increased >eight-fold for non-ESBL-producing strains, and MICs of piperacillin-tazobactam (8:1 ratio or with tazobactam fixed at 4 mg/L) increased>eight-fold for all ESBL-producing strains. However, amoxycillin MICs were not affected by a high inoculum with non-ESBL-producing strains, whereas the MICs of amoxycillin-clavulanate (2:1 and 4:1) increased <or=four-fold for ESBL producers, using the broth and agar dilution methods. In kinetic studies at a high inoculum, amoxycillin and amoxycillin-clavulanate were bactericidal against E. coli ATCC 25922, whereas piperacillin and piperacillin-tazobactam yielded decreases of <1 log(10) CFU/mL. Similarly, at a high inoculum, only amoxycillin-clavulanate was able to maintain bactericidal rates of killing over 24 h against the ESBL-positive E. coli isolates. The stability of amoxycillin-clavulanate and the contrasting results obtained with piperacillin-tazobactam against high inocula of ESBL-non-producing and ESBL-producing E. coli strains appear to be related to aspects other than the amount of beta-lactamase production.

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