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New research suggests that treatment of Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infections with first-line β-lactam antibiotics not only is ineffective but may be harmful (Muller S et al. Cell Host Microbe. 2015;18:520-522).
β-Lactam antibiotics eradicate many bacteria by disrupting bacterial cell wall synthesis. However, investigators from Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles found that exposure of MRSA to β-lactam antibiotics activates a gene called mecA, which in turn activates a back-up pathway for cell wall synthesis that can trigger a harmful inflammatory response. In MRSA-infected mice, this led to higher IL-1β levels and neutrophil recruitment, leading to greater immunopathology and more severe skin infections.
Hampton T. First-Line Antibiotics May Worsen MRSA infection. JAMA. 2016;315(1):19. doi:10.1001/jama.2015.17484