Carbapenemases in Enterobacteriaceae: Types and molecular epidemiology

Luis Martínez-Martínez, Juan José González-López

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47 Citations (Scopus)


© 2014 Elsevier España, S.L. All rights reserved. The most important mechanism of carbapenem resistance in Enterobacteriaceae is the production of carbapenemases, although resistance can also result from the synergistic activity between AmpC-type or (to a lesser extent) extended-spectrum beta-lactamases combined with decreased outer membrane permeability. Three major molecular classes of carbapenemases are recognized: A, B and D. Classes A and D are serine-beta-lactamases, whereas class B are metallo-beta-lactamases (their hydrolytic activity depends on the presence of zinc). In addition to carbapenems, carbapenemases also hydrolyze other beta-lactams, but the concrete substrate profile depends on the enzyme type. In general terms, class A enzymes are to some extent inhibited by clavulanic acid, and class B enzymes do not affect monobactams and are inhibited by zinc chelators. Given Enterobacteriaceae producing carbapenemases usually also contain gene coding for other mechanisms of resistance to beta-lactams, it is not unusual for the organisms to present complex beta-lactam resistance phenotypes. Additionally, these organisms frequently contain other genes that confer resistance to quinolones, aminoglycosides, tetracyclines, sulphonamides and other families of antimicrobial agents, which cause multiresistance or even panresistance. Currently, the most important type of class A carbapenemases are KPC enzymes, whereas VIM, IMP and (particularly) NDM in class B and OXA-48 (and related) in class D are the more relevant enzymes. Whereas some enzymes are encoded by chromosomal genes, most carbapenemases are plasmid-mediated (with genes frequently located in integrons), which favors the dissemination of the enzymes. Detailed information of the genetic platforms and the context of the genes coding for the most relevant enzymes will be presented in this review.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4-9
JournalEnfermedades Infecciosas y Microbiologia Clinica
Issue numberS4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2014


  • Beta-lactams
  • Carbapenemases
  • Enterobacteriaceae
  • Multiresistance


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