Objectives: We investigated the bacteriostatic and bactericidal activities of piperacillin/tazobactam against 16 clinical Escherichia coli producing inhibitor-resistant TEM β-lactamases (IRT; 13/16) and complex mutant TEM enzymes (CMT; 3/16).
Methods: Bacteriostatic activity was evaluated by three methods (disc diffusion, Vitek2 automated system, MIC determination by a microdilution method) and a time-killing study was used to investigate the bactericidal effect against standard (5 × 10(5) cfu/mL) and high inocula (5 × 10(6) cfu/mL).
Results: Piperacillin/tazobactam was bacteriostatic against most of the tested strains (15/16). Using a high inoculum, the piperacillin/tazobactam combination was not bactericidal against the 13 IRT-producing strains and one of the CMT-producing strains (1/3). A loss of bactericidal activity was still observed for seven IRT-producing strains (7/13) with a standard bacterial inoculum (<99.9% killing over 24 h).
Conclusions: Despite usual in vitro bacteriostatic activity, the piperacillin/tazobactam combination was not bactericidal against most IRT-producing clinical strains of E. coli, especially for the treatment of a high bacterial inoculum. This possible loss of bactericidal effect should be brought to the attention of physicians and may require high dosing regimens for the treatment of severe infections.