Pharmacodynamic evaluation of ceftriaxone single-dose therapy (0.125-1 g) to eradicate ceftriaxone-susceptible and ceftriaxone-resistant Neisseria gonorrhoeae strains in a hollow fibre infection model for gonorrhoea

J Antimicrob Chemother. 2024 May 2;79(5):1006-1013. doi: 10.1093/jac/dkae063.


Background: Antimicrobial resistance in Neisseria gonorrhoeae is threatening the gonorrhoea treatment, and optimizations of the current ceftriaxone-treatment regimens are crucial. We evaluated the pharmacodynamics of ceftriaxone single-dose therapy (0.125-1 g) against ceftriaxone-susceptible and ceftriaxone-resistant gonococcal strains, based on EUCAST ceftriaxone-resistance breakpoint (MIC > 0.125 mg/L), in our hollow fibre infection model (HFIM) for gonorrhoea.

Methods: Gonococcal strains examined were WHO F (ceftriaxone-susceptible, MIC < 0.002 mg/L), R (ceftriaxone-resistant, MIC = 0.5 mg/L), Z (ceftriaxone-resistant, MIC = 0.5 mg/L) and X (ceftriaxone-resistant, MIC = 2 mg/L). Dose-range HFIM 7 day experiments simulating ceftriaxone 0.125-1 g single-dose intramuscular regimens were conducted.

Results: Ceftriaxone 0.125-1 g single-dose treatments rapidly eradicated WHO F (wild-type ceftriaxone MIC). Ceftriaxone 0.5 and 1 g treatments, based on ceftriaxone human plasma pharmacokinetic parameters, eradicated most ceftriaxone-resistant gonococcal strains (WHO R and Z), but ceftriaxone 0.5 g failed to eradicate WHO X (high-level ceftriaxone resistance). When simulating oropharyngeal gonorrhoea, ceftriaxone 0.5 g failed to eradicate all the ceftriaxone-resistant strains, while ceftriaxone 1 g eradicated WHO R and Z (low-level ceftriaxone resistance) but failed to eradicate WHO X (high-level ceftriaxone resistance). No ceftriaxone-resistant mutants were selected using any ceftriaxone treatments.

Conclusions: Ceftriaxone 1 g single-dose intramuscularly cure most of the anogenital and oropharyngeal gonorrhoea cases caused by the currently internationally spreading ceftriaxone-resistant gonococcal strains, which should be further confirmed clinically. A ceftriaxone 1 g dose (±azithromycin 2 g) should be recommended for first-line empiric gonorrhoea treatment. This will buy countries some time until novel antimicrobials are licensed. Using ceftriaxone 1 g gonorrhoea treatment, the EUCAST ceftriaxone-resistance breakpoint is too low.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents* / administration & dosage
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents* / pharmacokinetics
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents* / pharmacology
  • Ceftriaxone* / administration & dosage
  • Ceftriaxone* / pharmacokinetics
  • Ceftriaxone* / pharmacology
  • Drug Resistance, Bacterial
  • Gonorrhea* / drug therapy
  • Gonorrhea* / microbiology
  • Humans
  • Microbial Sensitivity Tests*
  • Neisseria gonorrhoeae* / drug effects


  • Ceftriaxone
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents