A Test for the Rapid Detection of the Cefazolin Inoculum Effect in Methicillin-Susceptible Staphylococcus aureus

Sandra Rincon, Lina P. Carvajal, Sara I. Gomez-Villegas, Aura M. Echeverri, Rafael Rios, An Dinh, Claudia Pedroza, Karen M. Ordoñez, Esteban Nannini, Zhizeng Sun, Vance G. Fowler, Barbara E. Murray, William R. Miller, Timothy Palzkill, Lorena Diaz, Cesar A. Arias, Jinnethe Reyes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


The cefazolin inoculum effect (CzIE) has been associated with therapeutic failures and mortality in invasive methicillin-susceptible Staphylococcus aureus (MSSA) infections. A diagnostic test to detect the CzIE is not currently available. We developed a rapid (;3 h) CzIE colorimetric test to detect staphylococcal-b-lactamase (BlaZ) activity in supernatants after ampicillin induction. The test was validated using 689 bloodstream MSSA isolates recovered from Latin America and the United States. The cefazolin MIC determination at a high inoculum (107 CFU/ml) was used as a reference standard (cutoff $16mg/ml). All isolates underwent genome sequencing. A total of 257 (37.3%) of MSSA isolates exhibited the CzIE by the reference standard method. The overall sensitivity and specificity of the colorimetric test was 82.5% and 88.9%, respectively. Sensitivity in MSSA isolates harboring type A BlaZ (the most efficient enzyme against cefazolin) was 92.7% with a specificity of 87.8%. The performance of the test was lower against type B and C enzymes (sensitivities of 53.3% and 72.3%, respectively). When the reference value was set to $32mg/ml, the sensitivity for isolates carrying type A enzymes was 98.2%. Specificity was 100% for MSSA lacking blaZ. The overall negative predictive value ranged from 81.4% to 95.6% in Latin American countries using published prevalence rates of the CzIE. MSSA isolates from the United States were genetically diverse, with no distinguishing genomic differences from Latin American MSSA, distributed among 18 sequence types. A novel test can readily identify most MSSA isolates exhibiting the CzIE, particularly those carrying type A BlaZ. In contrast to the MIC determination using high inoculum, the rapid test is inexpensive, feasible, and easy to perform. After minor validation steps, it could be incorporated into the routine clinical laboratory workflow.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere01938-20
JournalJournal of Clinical Microbiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2021


  • Blaz
  • Cefazolin inoculum effect
  • Czie rapid test
  • High inoculum

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology (medical)


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