Share this article on:

β-Lactams: chemical structure, mode of action and mechanisms of resistance

Fernandes, Rúbena,b,c; Amador, Paulad,e; Prudêncio, Cristinaa,b,d

Reviews in Medical Microbiology: January 2013 - Volume 24 - Issue 1 - p 7–17
doi: 10.1097/MRM.0b013e3283587727
Original Articles

This synopsis summarizes the key chemical and bacteriological characteristics of β-lactams, penicillins, cephalosporins, carbanpenems, monobactams and others. Particular notice is given to first-generation to fifth-generation cephalosporins. This review also summarizes the main resistance mechanism to antibiotics, focusing particular attention to those conferring resistance to broad-spectrum cephalosporins by means of production of emerging cephalosporinases (extended-spectrum β-lactamases and AmpC β-lactamases), target alteration (penicillin-binding proteins from methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) and membrane transporters that pump β-lactams out of the bacterial cell.

aCiências Químicas e das Biomoléculas, Escola Superior de Tecnologia da Saúde do Porto (ESTSP), do Instituto Politécnico do Porto (IPP)

bCentro de Farmacologia e Biopatologia Química (U38-FCT), Faculdade de Medicina do Porto

cUnidade de Mecanismos Moleculares da Doença

dUnidade de Mecanismos Moleculares da Adaptação Celular, Centro de Investigação em Saúde e Ambiente (CISA), Escola Superior de Tecnologia da Saúde do Porto (ESTSP), do Instituto Politécnico do Porto (IPP), Porto

eDepartamento de Ciências do Ambiente, Escola Superior Agrária de Coimbra, Instituto Politécnico de Coimbra, Coimbra, Portugal.

Correspondence to Prof. Rúben Fernandes, PhD, Escola Superior de Tecnologia da Saúde do Porto (ESTSP), Rua Valente Perfeito 322, 4400-330 Vila Nova de Gaia, Porto, Portugal. E-mail: rpf@estsp.ipp.pt

Received 20 June, 2012

Accepted 23 July, 2012

© 2013 Wolters Kluwer Health | Lippincott Williams & Wilkins