MOA of Penicillin (Beta-lactam) Antibiotics - P2
Sources & Resources
- Bauman, R. (2014) Microbiology with Diseases by Taxonomy. Pearson Benjamin Cummings.
- Park Talaro, K (2008) Foundations in Microbiology, McGraw Hill.
Side Effects of Penicillin
Penicillins are typically very safe; the greatest risk being allergic reaction, which, when it occurs, can be severe. People who are allergic to penicillin may also have an allergic reaction to cephalosporins, another type of beta-lactam antibiotic.
The most common side effects of penicillin are mild diarrhea, headache, sore mouth or tongue, vaginal itching and discharge, white patches (yeast) in the mouth and/or on the tongue.
Gastric Breakdown & Absorption
Penicillin can be broken down in the stomach by gastric acids and is irregularly absorbed from the intestines into the blood stream.
This is an example of a type of antibiotic resistance. Penicillins are sometimes combined with beta-lactamase inhibitors, agents that protect the penicillin from these bacterial enzymes.
* The information in this article is not meant to be used for self-diagnosis or treatment of illness. If you are sick, seek help from a trained medical professional, not a computer.
Page last updated: 4/2016
Penicillin core structure, where "R" is the variable group.
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Bacterial Enzymes & Antibiotic Resistance
Many pathogenic Gram-positive bacteria produce enzymes called Penicillinases (or beta-lactamases) that can inactivate penicillin. The capability of bacteria to synthesize this enzyme is an adaptation that was selected for in the presence of substances that inhibit bacterial growth. You have free access to a large collection of materials used in two college-level introductory microbiology courses (8-week & 16-week). The Virtual Microbiology Classroom provides a wide range of free educational resources including PowerPoint Lectures, Study Guides, Review Questions and Practice Test Questions.