Can the use of older-generation beta-lactam antibiotics in livestock production over-select for beta-lactamases of greatest consequence for human medicine? An in vitro experimental model. Academic Article uri icon


  • Though carbapenems are not licensed for use in food animals in the U.S., carbapenem resistance among Enterobacteriaceae has been identified in farm animals and their environments. The objective of our study was to determine the extent to which older-generation -lactam antibiotics approved for use in food animals in the U.S. might differentially select for resistance to antibiotics of critical importance to human health, such as carbapenems. Escherichia coli (E. coli) strains from humans, food animals, or the environment bearing a single -lactamase gene (n = 20 each) for blaTEM-1, blaCMY-2, and blaCTX-M-* or else blaKPC/IMP/NDM (due to limited availability, often in combination with other bla genes), were identified, along with 20 E. coli strains lacking any known beta-lactamase genes. Baseline estimates of intrinsic bacterial fitness were derived from the population growth curves. Effects of ampicillin (32 g/mL), ceftriaxone (4 g/mL) and meropenem (4 g/mL) on each strain and resistance-group also were assessed. Further, in vitro batch cultures were prepared by mixing equal concentrations of 10 representative E. coli strains (two from each resistance gene group), and each mixture was incubated at 37C for 24 hours in non-antibiotic cation-adjusted Mueller-Hinton II (CAMH-2) broth, ampicillin + CAMH-2 broth (at 2, 4, 8, 16, and 32 g/mL) and ceftiofur + CAMH-2 broth (at 0.5, 1, 2, 4, and 8g/mL). Relative and absolute abundance of resistance-groups were estimated phenotypically. Line plots of the raw data were generated, and non-linear Gompertz models and multilevel mixed-effect linear regression models were fitted to the data. The observed strain growth rate distributions were significantly different across the groups. AmpC strains (i.e., blaCMY-2) had distinctly less robust (p < 0.05) growth in ceftriaxone (4 g/mL) compared to extended-spectrum beta-lactamase (ESBL) producers harboring blaCTX-M-*variants. With increasing beta-lactam antibiotic concentrations, relative proportions of ESBLs and CREs were over-represented in the mixed bacterial communities; importantly, this was more pronounced with ceftiofur than with ampicillin. These results indicate that aminopenicillins and extended-spectrum cephalosporins would be expected to propagate carbapenemase-producing Enterobacteriaceae in food animals if and when Enterobacteriaceae from human health care settings enter the food animal environment.

published proceedings

  • PLoS One

altmetric score

  • 31

author list (cited authors)

  • Ogunrinu, O. J., Norman, K. N., Vinasco, J., Levent, G., Lawhon, S. D., Fajt, V. R., ... Scott, H. M.

citation count

  • 6

complete list of authors

  • Ogunrinu, Olanrewaju J||Norman, Keri N||Vinasco, Javier||Levent, Gizem||Lawhon, Sara D||Fajt, Virginia R||Volkova, Victoria V||Gaire, Tara||Poole, Toni L||Genovese, Kenneth J||Wittum, Thomas E||Scott, H Morgan

editor list (cited editors)

  • Karunasagar, I.

publication date

  • January 2020