Defining an extended-spectrum β-lactamase

David Livermore*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

138 Citations (Scopus)


The term 'extended-spectrum β-lactamase' (ESBL), initially' extended-broad-spectrum β-lactamase', was first coined for derivatives of TEM and SHV enzymes able to hydrolyse oxyimino-cephalosporins. These all belonged to β-lactamase functional group 2be. Subsequently, the term has been stretched to include: (i) enzymes with spectra similar to those of TEM and SHV mutants but derived from other sources, e.g., the CTX-M and VEB types; (ii) TEM and SHV mutants with borderline ESBL activity, e.g., TEM-12; and (iii) various β-lactamases conferring wider resistance than their parent types but not meeting the definition for group 2be, e.g., OXA derivatives and mutant AmpC types with increased activity against cefepime. It seems best-and pragmatic-that the term 'ESBL' retains its broad modern usage, but that should always be accompanied by mention of the enzyme's family as, e.g., in 'TEM ESBL' or 'OXA ESBL', not as a sole moniker.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3-10
Number of pages8
JournalClinical Microbiology and Infection
Issue numberSUPPL. 1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2008


  • Classification
  • CTX-M
  • ESBL
  • Extended-spectrum β-lactamase
  • Review
  • SHV
  • TEM
  • β-Lactamases


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