An Improved Extended-Spectrum-β-Lactamase Detection Test Utilizing Aztreonam plus Clavulanate

J Clin Microbiol. 2017 Dec 26;56(1):e01309-17. doi: 10.1128/JCM.01309-17. Print 2018 Jan.


Clinical laboratories test for extended-spectrum β-lactamases (ESBLs) for epidemiological and infection control purposes and also for the potential of cephalosporins to cause therapeutic failures. Testing can be problematic, because the CLSI does not recommend the testing of all producers of ESBLs and also falsely negative results may occur with isolates that coproduce AmpC. Boronic acid-supplemented tests can enhance ESBL detection in AmpC producers. Because aztreonam inhibits AmpCs, a study was designed to compare ESBL detection by the CLSI disk test (CLSI), a boronic acid-supplemented CLSI disk test (CLSI plus BA), and an aztreonam plus clavulanate disk test (ATM plus CA). The study tested 100 well-characterized Enterobacteriaceae, Acinetobacter baumannii, and Pseudomonas aeruginosa isolates. Seventy produced TEM, SHV, or CTX-M ESBLs, with 15 coproducing an AmpC and 11 coproducing a metallo-β-lactamase. Thirty ESBL-negative isolates were also tested. Tests were inoculated by CLSI methodology and interpreted as positive if an inhibitor caused a zone diameter increase of ≥5 mm. The percentages of ESBL producers detected were as follows: ATM plus CA, 95.7%; CLSI plus BA, 88.6%; and CLSI, 78.6%. When AmpC was coproduced, the sensitivities of the tests were as follows: ATM plus CA, 100%; CLSI plus BA, 93.3%; and CLSI, 60%. ATM plus CA also detected an ESBL in 90.1% of isolates that coproduced a metallo-β-lactamase. Falsely positive tests occurred only with the CLSI and CLSI plus BA tests. Overall, the ATM plus CA test detected ESBLs more accurately than the CLSI and CLSI plus BA tests, especially with isolates coproducing an AmpC or metallo-β-lactamase.

Keywords: AmpC; CLSI; ESBL.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / pharmacology
  • Aztreonam / pharmacology*
  • Bacteria / drug effects
  • Bacteria / enzymology*
  • Bacteriological Techniques / methods*
  • Clavulanic Acid / pharmacology*
  • Microbial Sensitivity Tests / standards
  • beta-Lactam Resistance / drug effects
  • beta-Lactamase Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • beta-Lactamases / analysis*


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • beta-Lactamase Inhibitors
  • Clavulanic Acid
  • beta-Lactamases
  • Aztreonam