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Open Access Highly Accessed Review

The role of beta-lactamase-producing-bacteria in mixed infections

Itzhak Brook

Author affiliations

Department of Pediatrics, Georgetown University School of Medicine, Washington, DC, USA

Citation and License

BMC Infectious Diseases 2009, 9:202  doi:10.1186/1471-2334-9-202

Published: 14 December 2009


Beta-lactamase-producing bacteria (BLPB) can play an important role in polymicrobial infections. They can have a direct pathogenic impact in causing the infection as well as an indirect effect through their ability to produce the enzyme beta-lactamase. BLPB may not only survive penicillin therapy but can also, as was demonstrated in in vitro and in vivo studies, protect other penicillin-susceptible bacteria from penicillin by releasing the free enzyme into their environment. This phenomenon occurs in upper respiratory tract, skin, soft tissue, surgical and other infections. The clinical, in vitro, and in vivo evidence supporting the role of these organisms in the increased failure rate of penicillin in eradication of these infections and the implication of that increased rate on the management of infections is discussed.