Background: Extended-spectrum, metallo- and AmpC beta-lactamases usually are sought subsequently to susceptibility testing, meaning that producers are not identified until 72 h after a clinical specimen is taken. Chromogenic tests might usefully shorten this delay, and we investigated the Cica-beta-Test for this purpose.
Methods: Reference and clinical strains with known beta-lactamases, or controls, were grown with a cefpodoxime disc to promote conservation of resistance. The cultures were then tested with nitrocefin and with the Cica-beta-Test, which examines for hydrolysis of the chromogenic oxyimino-cephalosporin HMRZ-86 with and without specific inhibitors of extended-spectrum, metallo- and AmpC beta-lactamases.
Results: were scored, as colour changes from yellow to red, with the tester blinded to the strain identity and the mechanism(s) present. Results Proportions of extended-spectrum, metallo- and AmpC beta-lactamase producers correctly identified by the Cica-beta-Test were 85%, 77% and 72%, respectively. Such performance should be achievable if testing colonies from a primary culture plate, 24 h after a specimen was taken. Greater precision, albeit at more delay, would be achieved if results were read in conjunction with antibiogram data available 48 h after the specimen was taken. Limitations were frequent confusion of Klebsiella oxytoca hyperproducing K1 enzyme with AmpC hyperproducers, and that isolates with NMC-A or KPC carbapenemases were wrongly inferred to have AmpC enzymes.
Conclusions: The Cica-beta-Test has the potential to provide useful therapeutic guidance, identifying isolates with potent beta-lactamases and informing early therapy; it will also help to monitor beta-lactamase epidemiology among multiresistant strains.