Relationships among ciprofloxacin, gatifloxacin, levofloxacin, and norfloxacin MICs for fluoroquinolone-resistant Escherichia coli clinical isolates

Antimicrob Agents Chemother. 2009 Jan;53(1):229-34. doi: 10.1128/AAC.00722-08. Epub 2008 Oct 6.


Fluoroquinolones are some of the most prescribed antibiotics in the United States. Previously, we and others showed that the fluoroquinolones exhibit a class effect with regard to the CLSI-established breakpoints for resistance, such that decreased susceptibility (i.e., an increased MIC) to one fluoroquinolone means a simultaneously decreased susceptibility to all. For defined strains, however, clear differences exist in the pharmacodynamic properties of each fluoroquinolone and the extent to which resistance-associated genotypes affect the MICs of each fluoroquinolone. In a pilot study of 920 clinical Escherichia coli isolates, we uncovered tremendous variation in norfloxacin MICs. The MICs for all of the fluoroquinolone-resistant isolates exceeded the resistance breakpoint, reaching 1,000 microg/ml. Approximately 25% of the isolates (n = 214), representing the full range of resistant norfloxacin MICs, were selected for the simultaneous determinations of ciprofloxacin, gatifloxacin, levofloxacin, and norfloxacin MICs. We found that (i) great MIC variation existed for all four fluoroquinolones, (ii) the ciprofloxacin and levofloxacin MICs of >90% of the fluoroquinolone-resistant isolates were higher than the resistance breakpoints, (iii) ciprofloxacin and levofloxacin MICs were distributed into two distinct groups, (iv) the MICs of two drug pairs (ciprofloxacin and norfloxacin by Kendall's Tau-b test and gatifloxacin and levofloxacin by paired t test) were similar with statistical significance but were different from each other, and (v) approximately 2% of isolates had unprecedented fluoroquinolone MIC relationships. Thus, although the fluoroquinolones can be considered equivalent with regard to clinical susceptibility or resistance, fluoroquinolone MICs differ dramatically for fluoroquinolone-resistant clinical isolates, likely because of differences in drug structure.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Ciprofloxacin / pharmacology*
  • Drug Resistance, Bacterial
  • Escherichia coli / drug effects*
  • Escherichia coli / isolation & purification
  • Fluoroquinolones / pharmacology*
  • Gatifloxacin
  • Levofloxacin*
  • Microbial Sensitivity Tests
  • Norfloxacin / pharmacology*
  • Ofloxacin / pharmacology*
  • United States


  • Fluoroquinolones
  • Ciprofloxacin
  • Levofloxacin
  • Ofloxacin
  • Gatifloxacin
  • Norfloxacin