Author Affiliations: Departments of Medicine (Drs Lee and Kumana) and Microbiology (Dr Yuen), The University of Hong Kong, Queen Mary Hospital, Hong Kong.
Contempo Updates Section Editor: Stephen
J. Lurie, MD, PhD, Senior Editor.
β-Lactam antibiotics act by binding to penicillin-binding proteins
(PBPs), thus inhibiting bacterial cell wall synthesis. Increasingly, however,
these antibiotics are rendered ineffective because of degradation by β-lactamases.
This family of enzymes, which are produced by gram-positive and gram-negative
bacteria (including anaerobes) and mycobacteria,1,2
hydrolyze the β-lactam ring, thereby inactivating the antibiotic molecule
prior to binding with PBPs. In response, β-lactamase inhibitors have
been developed to conserve the activity and extend the spectrum of any accompanying β-lactam
drug against β-lactamase–producing microorganisms.
Lee NLS, Yuen KY, Kumana CR. β-Lactam Antibiotic and β-Lactamase Inhibitor Combinations. JAMA. 2001;285(4):386-388. doi:10.1001/jama.285.4.386