Antagonism of the antibacterial action of some penicillins by other penicillins and cephalosporins.

J. F. Acar, L. D. Sabath, P. A. Ruch

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There are many examples of two penicillins acting synergistically, usually by one competitively inhibiting beta-lactamase, thus protecting the other from inactivation. There are few reports on penicillins antagonizing each other. Eight strains of three genera (Proteus, Escherichia, Pseudomonas) isolated at Boston City Hospital or Institut Pasteur, Paris, showed antagonism of carbenicillin or ampicillin by cephaloridine, cloxacillin, or 6-aminopenicillanic acid. Broth dilution tests showed that with seven of the eight strains the minimum inhibiting concentration (MIC) of the more active antibiotic was increased by 800-6,400% by low concentrations (often one-tenth the MIC) of the antagonist, whereas higher concentrations of "antagonist" were not as antagonistic, This suggested that two or more receptor sites of action for penicillins were present; the antagonist thus blocks the antibacterial action at the more sensitive site but acts additively with the antagonized antibiotic at the less sensitive site. The possibility that the mechanism of antagonism was induction of inactivating enzymes (beta-lactamase, penicillin acylase) was studied in two strains(one Escherichia coli and one Proteus rettgeri), and two antagonists were studied in detail. With E. coli cephaloridine was a poorer inducer of beta-lactamase than were the antagonized antibiotic and 6-aminopenicillanic acid. From these organisms, the good inducers of a beta-lactamase that acted on benzylpenicillin did not induce enzymes that inactivated carbenicillin. Thus, the mechanism of antagonism was not due to beta-lactamase induction.
Original languageUndefined/Unknown
Pages (from-to)446-453
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Clinical Investigation
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1975


  • Ampicillin/ai [Antagonists & Inhibitors]
  • Ampicillin/pd [Pharmacology]
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents/pd [Pharmacology]
  • Binding Sites
  • Binding, Competitive
  • Carbenicillin/ai [Antagonists & Inhibitors]
  • Carbenicillin/pd [Pharmacology]
  • Cephaloridine/pd [Pharmacology]
  • Cephalothin/pd [Pharmacology]
  • Cloxacillin/pd [Pharmacology]
  • Enzyme Induction
  • Escherichia coli/de [Drug Effects]
  • Escherichia coli/en [Enzymology]
  • Isomerases/me [Metabolism]
  • Methicillin/pd [Pharmacology]
  • Microbial Sensitivity Tests
  • Penicillanic Acid/pd [Pharmacology]
  • Penicillin G/pd [Pharmacology]
  • Proteus/de [Drug Effects]
  • Proteus/en [Enzymology]
  • Proteus vulgaris/de [Drug Effects]
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa/de [Drug Effects]

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