Ampicillin is closely related to amoxicillin, another type of penicillin, and both are used to treat urinary tract infections, otitis media, Haemophilus influenzae, salmonellosis and Listeria meningitis. It is used with flucloxacillin in the combination antibiotic co-fluampicil for empiric treatment of cellulitis; providing cover against Group A streptococcal infection whilst the flucloxacillin acts against the Staphylococcus aureus bacterium. Of concern is the number of bacteria that become resistant to Ampicillin necessitating combination therapy or use of other antibiotics.
All Pseudomonas and most strains of Klebsiella and Aerobacter are considered resistant. Additionally, resistance to ampicillin is seen in enterobacter, citrobacter, serratia, indole-positive proteus species, and other hospital-acquired gram negative infections.
An ampicillin resistance gene (abbreviated ampR) is commonly used as a selectable marker in routine biotechnology. Due to concerns over horizontal gene transfer to pathogenic organisms in the wild, the European Food Safety Authority restricts use of this gene (among other resistance genes) in commercial genetically modified organisms. The enzyme responsible for degrading ampicillin is called beta-lactamase, in reference to the beta-lactam structure of ampicillin and related drugs.
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