Beta-lactam antibiotics

The Beta-lactam antibiotics are a broad class of antibiotics that includes the penicillins and the cephalosporins. Ceftriaxone (Rocephin), a cephalosporin, is sometimes given intravenously to patients with Lyme disease.

The Beta-lactams are ineffective against the pathogens which cause chronic disease as they can't enter into human cells,1) but perhaps more importantly actually foster the growth of L-form bacteriaDifficult-to-culture bacteria that lack a cell wall and are not detectable by traditional culturing processes. Sometimes referred to as cell wall deficient bacteria..

Patients who are offered penicillin antibiotics to treat strep or other acute infections should ask for an alternative such as claforan (Cefotaxime).

Penicillins including amoxicillin

Penicillin antibiotics are historically significant because they were the first drugs that were effective against many previously serious diseases such as tuberculosis, syphilis, and staphylococcus infections. Penicillins are still widely used today, though many types of bacteria are now resistant. While the penicillins are effective against gram-positive bacteria, they do nothing against L-formDifficult-to-culture bacteria that lack a cell wall and are not detectable by traditional culturing processes. Sometimes referred to as cell wall deficient bacteria. of cell wall deficient bacteria.

Clinical persistence of Borrelia burgdorferi in patients with active Lyme borreliosis occurs despite obviously adequate antibiotic therapy….

V. Mursic, et al. 2)

In fact, Lida Mattman, who authored what remains the definitive textbook on L-form bacteria describes how to “induce” the bacterial forms in a penicillin medium:

One hour after placing Proteus in a penicillin medium, the nuclear material may gather into one or two chromatin granules which gradually proliferate to form a small peripheral wreath…. As Hirokawa cultured E. coli in penicillin broth, the DNA content per cell increased more than 4 times in 3 h….

Lida Mattman, PhD 3)

Later in her textbook Mattman writes:

Almost every antibiotic has induced cell wall deficient forms from some bacterial species. Why then does penicillin emerge as the most efficient inducer in vitroA technique of performing a given procedure in a controlled environment outside of a living organism - usually a laboratory. and, correspondingly the most commonly associated with in vivo problems? The reason is the wide range in concentration which penicillin induces cell wall changes. The early work of Pulvert comparing penicillin with four other antibiotics revealed that penicillin was unique in producing “viable monsters” throughout a long series of dilutions. Similarly. Godzeski, Brier, and Pavey found that penicillin induced L colonies of Staphylococci in a wide span of concentrations, whereas other antibiotics were effective in only one or two dilutions. Additionally, Kagan el al found that methicillin in concentrations from 1.0 to 5000 U/ml induced the L-phase of Staphylococci.

Lida Mattman, PhD 4)


Related article: High-dose antibiotics

Patients with Lyme disease are often given high doses of intravenous ceftriaxone (Rocephin) and without any indication that the treatment is effective – even in the short-term.5) In fact, Rocephin only contributes to disease over the long-term.

Fallon et al treated patients diagnosed with Lyme disease with intravenous ceftriaxone (Rocephin) for a period of 24 weeks.6) While patients in the experimental arm of the trial experienced improvement in pain, fatigue, and physical functioning, these changes were short-lived. According to Fallon:

The improvement… was not sustained to week 24…. 10 weeks of IV ceftriaxone followed by 14 weeks of no antibiotic is not an effective strategy.

B.A. Fallon, et al. 7)

The study also revealed that more than one quarter of antibiotic-treated patients had significant adverse effects necessitating treatment termination.

In a letter to the editor, one physician writes:

140 g of ceftriaxone should have eliminated any spirochetes present in these patients…. In sum, this is now the fourth randomized blinded trial of prolonged antimicrobial therapy in patients previously treated for Lyme disease. Like the other three, it clearly demonstrates the absence of any lasting improvement in cognitive function. Given the considerable risk of serious adverse events from prolonged [high-dose] antibiotic treatment, it is time to look elsewhere for an effective management strategy to help patients with persistent cognitive symptoms after treatment for Lyme disease. Clearly, enough is enough.

John J. Halperin MD 8)

Other controlled trials have found no improvement in treatment outcome when the length of the study was extended.9)

Notes and comments

FDA restricts use of cephalosporin antibiotics in livestock saying it contributes to drug-resistant bacteria in humans. http://nyti.ms/yhomPV


Formation and cultivation of Borrelia burgdorferi spheroplast-L-form variants.
Mursic VP, Wanner G, Reinhardt S, Wilske B, Busch U, Marget W
Infection24p218-26(1996 May-Jun)
Mattman, L.H. (2000). Cell wall deficient forms. Third edition, p. 23.
Mattman, L.H. (2000). Cell wall deficient forms. Third edition, p. 84.
5) , 6) , 7)
A randomized, placebo-controlled trial of repeated IV antibiotic therapy for Lyme encephalopathy.
Fallon BA, Keilp JG, Corbera KM, Petkova E, Britton CB, Dwyer E, Slavov I, Cheng J, Dobkin J, Nelson DR, Sackeim HA
Neurology70p992-1003(2008 Mar 25)
Prolonged Lyme disease treatment: enough is enough.
Halperin JJ
Neurology70p986-7(2008 Mar 25)
Duration of antibiotic treatment in disseminated Lyme borreliosis: a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled, multicenter clinical study.
Oksi J, Nikoskelainen J, Hiekkanen H, Lauhio A, Peltomaa M, Pitkäranta A, Nyman D, Granlund H, Carlsson SA, Seppälä I, Valtonen V, Viljanen M
Eur J Clin Microbiol Infect Dis26p571-81(2007 Aug)
home/othertreatments/antibacterials/betalactams.txt · Last modified: 01.04.2012 by paulalbert
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