Association between use of different antibiotics and trimethoprim resistance: going beyond the obvious crude association

J Antimicrob Chemother. 2018 Jun 1;73(6):1700-1707. doi: 10.1093/jac/dky031.


Objectives: To evaluate the association between use of different antibiotics and trimethoprim resistance at the population level.

Methods: Monthly primary care prescribing data were obtained from NHS Digital. Positive Enterobacteriaceae records from urine samples from patients between April 2014 and January 2016 in England were extracted from PHE's Second Generation Surveillance System (SGSS). Elastic net regularization and generalized boosted regression models were used to evaluate associations between antibiotic prescribing and trimethoprim resistance, both measured at Clinical Commission Group level.

Results: In total, 2 487 635 (99%) of 2 513 285 urine Enterobacteriaceae samples from 1 667 839 patients were tested for trimethoprim resistance. Using both elastic net regularization and generalized boosted regression models, geographical variation in trimethoprim resistance among Enterobacteriaceae urinary samples could be partly explained by geographical variation in use of trimethoprim (relative risk = 1.14, 95% CI = 1.02-1.75; relative influence = 4.1) and penicillins with extended spectrum (mainly amoxicillin/ampicillin in England) (relative risk = 1.19, 95% CI = 1.11-1.30; relative influence = 7.4). Nitrofurantoin use was associated with lower trimethoprim resistance levels (relative risk = 0.83, 95% CI = 0.57-0.96; relative influence = 9.2).

Conclusions: Use of amoxicillin/ampicillin explained more of the variance in trimethoprim resistance than trimethoprim use, suggesting that co-selection by these antibiotics is an important driver of trimethoprim resistance levels at the population level. Nitrofurantoin use was consistently associated with lower trimethoprim resistance levels, indicating that trimethoprim resistance levels could be lowered if trimethoprim use is replaced by nitrofurantoin.

MeSH terms

  • Ampicillin / therapeutic use
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / adverse effects
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use*
  • England
  • Enterobacteriaceae / drug effects*
  • Enterobacteriaceae Infections / drug therapy
  • Enterobacteriaceae Infections / urine
  • Escherichia coli / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Microbial Sensitivity Tests
  • Nitrofurantoin / therapeutic use
  • Penicillins / therapeutic use
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians' / statistics & numerical data*
  • Regression Analysis
  • Trimethoprim / pharmacology*
  • Trimethoprim Resistance*
  • Urinary Tract Infections / drug therapy
  • Urinary Tract Infections / microbiology


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Penicillins
  • Ampicillin
  • Nitrofurantoin
  • Trimethoprim