Effects of erythromycin in combination with penicillin, ampicillin, or gentamicin on the growth of Listeria monocytogenes

R. L. Penn, T. T. Ward, R. T. Steigbigel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Since the optimal antimicrobial therapy for infections caused by Listeria monocytogenes, particularly in patients allergic to penicillin, is uncertain, we investigated the in vitro effects of erythromycin, alone and in combination with other antibiotics, on listeriae. Seven strains of listeriae were inhibited but not killed by erythromycin, penicillin G, or ampicillin when tested by a microtiter broth dilution method. Susceptibility to gentamicin decreased when tryptose phosphate broth was substituted for Mueller-Hinton broth, but was independent of their calcium and magnesium concentrations. Quantitative killing studies performed with erythromycin combined with either penicillin G or ampicillin yielded antagonism for all strains, in contrast to microtiter checkerboard determinations, which did not indicate antagonism in all instances. Antagonism occurred with strains in both the stationary and log phases of growth and was slightly reversed by a 120-min preincubation of the listeriae with penicillin before the addition of erythromycin. Erythromycin and gentamicin were antagonistic in quantitative killing studies. Based on these in vitro findings, we conclude that the addition of gentamicin to erythromycin offers no advantage in the treatment of listeriosis in the penicillin-allergic patient.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)289-294
Number of pages6
JournalAntimicrobial agents and chemotherapy
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1982
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmacology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases


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