Ampicillin

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Ampicillin is a beta-lactam antibiotic that has been used extensively to treat bacterial infections since 1961. Until the introduction of ampicillin by the British company Beecham, penicillin therapies had only been effective against Gram-positive organisms such as staphylococci and streptococci. Ampicillin (originally branded as 'Penbritin') also demonstrated activity against Gram-negative organisms such as H. influenzae, coliforms and Proteus spp. Ampicillin was the first of a number of so-called broad spectrum penicillins subsequently introduced by Beecham. Ampicillin is part of the aminopenicillin family and is roughly equivalent to its successor, amoxicillin in terms of spectrum and level of activity.[1] It can sometimes result in reactions that range in severity from a rash (in the case of patients that may unwittingly have mononucleosis) to potentially lethal allergic reactions such as anaphylaxis. However, as with other penicillin drugs, it is relatively non-toxic and adverse effects of a serious nature are encountered only infrequently.

Contents

Mechanism of action

Belonging to the penicillin group of beta-lactam antibiotics, ampicillin is able to penetrate Gram-positive and some Gram-negative bacteria. It differs from penicillin only by the presence of an amino group. That amino group helps the drug penetrate the outer membrane of gram-negative bacteria.

Ampicillin acts as a competitive inhibitor of the enzyme transpeptidase, which is needed by bacteria to make their cell walls.[1] It inhibits the third and final stage of bacterial cell wall synthesis in binary fission, which ultimately leads to cell lysis. Ampicillin has received FDA approval for its mechanism of action.

Effects on chloroplast division

Ampicillin, like other β-lactam antibiotics, not only blocks the division of bacteria, but also the division of chloroplasts of the Glaucophytes (called cyanelles) and chloroplasts of the moss Physcomitrella patens, a bryophyte. In contrast, it has no effect on the plastids of the higher developed vascular plant Lycopersicon esculentum L. (tomato). [2]

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