reactions for some staphylococci and anaerobic
species may take up to 60 minutes to develop.
For the rapid detection of β-lactamase enzymes in
Some strains of Staphylococcus aureus produce
isolated colonies of Neisseria gonorrhoeae,
small amounts of the β-lactamase enzyme unless
Moraxellacatarrhalis, Staphylococcus spp.,
enzyme production is induced by growth in a medium
Haemophilus influenzae and anaerobic bacteria.
containing sub-inhibitory concentrations of a β-lactam
A positive result should be interpreted as resistance
Nitrocefin is a chromogenic cephalosporin which has
to penicillin or cephalosporin activity. Susceptibility
been found to be effective in detecting all known β-
should be confirmed by standard growth-dependent
lactamase enzymes4-7. β-lactamase enzymes
susceptibility testing methods. Negative results imply
hydrolyse the amide bond in the β-lactam ring of
Nitrocefin resulting in a distinctive colour change from
Discs should be stored in the freezer at below -10ºC
Nitrocefin discs are intended for use in the rapid
on receipt in the containers provided. Allow to
testing of isolated colonies of Neisseria
equilibrate to room temperature before opening then
gonorrhoeae8, Moraxellacatarrhalis9, Staphylococcus
return to freezer storage immediately after use.
spp.10, Haemophilus influenzae3,11 and anaerobic
bacteria, notably Bacteroides spp.12. The Nitrocefin
Limitations of Use
test is of little use for closely related taxonomic
Resistance to β-lactam antibiotics has been rarely
groups of organisms e.g. members of the family
reported in the specified organisms without the
Enterobacteriaceae7. This is because organisms
production of β-lactamases13. Nitrocefin Discs
within a taxonomic group or even a single strain may
should be used only as a rapid supplemental test and
produce a diversity of β-lactamase enzymes with
should not replace conventional susceptibility testing.
Abraham EP, Chain E. Nature 1940; 146: 837.
1. Place the required number of Nitrocefin discs into
McCarthy LR. Clin Microbiol Newsl. 1980; 2: 1-3.
a clean empty Petri dish or onto a microscope
Thornsberry C, Gavan TL, Gerlach EH. In: Cummitech.
Sherris JC, editor. Washington DC: American Society for Microbiology, 1977; 1-2.
O’Callaghan CH, Morris A, Kirby S, Shingler AH. Antimicrob
2. Discs may be moistened with one drop of
Agents and Chemother. 1972; 1: 283-288.
Citri M, Pollock MR. Adv in Enzymol. 1966; 28: 237-323.
Richmond MH, Sykes RB. In: Advances in Microbial Physiology. Rose AH, Tempest DW, editors. London and
3. Using a sterile loop or applicator stick remove
New York: Academic Press, 1973; 9: 31-88.
several well-isolated and similar colonies and
Sykes RB, Matthew M. J Antimicrob Chemother. 1976; 2:
Ashford WA, Golash RG, Hemming VG. Lancet. 1976; ii:
Malmvall BE, Brorsson JE, Johnsson J. J Antimicrob Chemother. 1977; 3: 374-375.
Alternatively: moisten the disc with one drop of
deionised water, then holding the disc in forceps wipe
J Infect Dis. 1970; 122: 544-546.
Skinner A, Wise R. J Clin Pathol. 1977; 30: 1030-1037.
Olsson B, Dornbush K, Nord CE. Med Microbiol Immunol. 1977; 163: 183-194. Interpretation of Results
A positive reaction will show as a yellow to red
colour change on the area where the culture was
applied. Note: - the colour change does not normally develop over the whole of the disc. A negative result will show no colour change on the disc. For most bacterial strains a positive results will develop within 5 minutes. However, positive
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