Dataset Information


Setting the Beta-Lactam Therapeutic Range for Critically Ill Patients: Is There a Floor or Even a Ceiling?

ABSTRACT: Beta-lactam antibiotics exhibit high interindividual variability in drug concentrations in patients with critical illness which led to an interest in the use of therapeutic drug monitoring to improve effectiveness and safety. To implement therapeutic drug monitoring, it is necessary to define the beta-lactam therapeutic range-in essence, what drug concentration would prompt a clinician to make dose adjustments up or down. This objective of this narrative review was to summarize evidence for the "floor" (for effectiveness) and "ceiling" (for toxicity) for the beta-lactam therapeutic range to be used with individualized therapeutic drug monitoring.

Data sources

Research articles were sourced from PubMed using search term combinations of "pharmacokinetics," "pharmacodynamics," "toxicity," "neurotoxicity," "therapeutic drug monitoring," "beta-lactam," "cefepime," "meropenem," "piperacillin/tazobactam," "ICU," and "critical illness."

Study selection

Articles were selected if they included preclinical, translational, or clinical data on pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic thresholds for effectiveness and safety for beta-lactams in critical illness.

Data synthesis

Experimental data indicate a beta-lactam concentration above the minimum inhibitory concentration of the organism for greater than or equal to 40-60% of the dosing interval is needed, but clinical data indicate that higher concentrations may be preferrable. In the first 48 hours of critical illness, a free beta-lactam concentration at or above the susceptibility breakpoint of the most likely pathogen for 100% of the dosing interval would be reasonable (typically based on Pseudomonas aeruginosa). After 48 hours, the lowest acceptable concentration could be tailored to 1-2× the observed minimum inhibitory concentration of the organism for 100% of the dosing interval (often a more susceptible organism). Neurotoxicity is the primary dose-dependent adverse effect of beta-lactams, but the evidence remains insufficient to link a specific drug concentration to greater risk.


As studies advance the understanding of beta-lactam exposure and response in critically ill patients, it is essential to clearly define the acceptable therapeutic range to guide regimen selection and adjustment.

PROVIDER: S-EPMC8202642 | BioStudies |

REPOSITORIES: biostudies

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