Cephalosporins; Types, Uses, Contraindications, Side Effects, Interactions,

Cephalosporins; Types, Uses, Contraindications, Side Effects, Interactions,

Cephalosporins are a large group of B-lactam antibiotics that are closely related to the penicillins. Cephalosporins penetrate well into most body fluids and the ECF of most tissues, especially when inflammation (which enhances diffusion) is present. Cephalosporins are bactericidal and have the same mode of action as other β-lactam antibiotics (such as penicillins), but are less susceptible to β-lactamases. Mechanistically, they inhibit cell-wall synthesis and kill bacteria in a manner similar to the penicillins.

Types / Classification of Cephalosporins

1st Generation
  • Cefacetrile
  • Cefadroxil
  • Cefalexin
  • Cefaloglycin
  • Cefalonium
  • Cefaloridine
  • Cefalotin
  • Cefapirin
  • Cefatrizine
  • Cefazaflur
  • Cefazedone
  • Cefazolin
  • Cefradine
  • Cefroxadine
  • Ceftezole
2nd Generation
  • Cefaclor
  • Cefonicid
  • Cefprozil
  • Cefuroxime
  • Cefuzonam

Antianaerobe activity

  • Cefmetazole
  • Cefotetan
  • Cefoxitin

The following cephems are cephalosporins

  • Cefaclor
  • Cefotetan
  • Cephamycin (Cefoxitin
  • Cefprozil
  • Cefuroxime
  • Cefuroxime axetil
  • Cefamandole
  • Cefminox
  • Cefonicid
  • Ceforanide
  • Cefotiam
  • Cefbuperazone
  • Cefuzonam
  • Cefmetazole
  • Carbacephem
3rd Generation
  • Cefixime
  • Ceftriaxone
  • Antipseudomonal (Ceftazidime
  • Cefoperazone)
  • Cefdinir
  • Cefcapene
  • Cefdaloxime
  • Ceftizoxime
  • Cefmenoxime
  • Cefotaxime
  • Cefpiramide
  • Cefpodoxime
  • Ceftibuten
  • Cefditoren
  • Cefetamet
  • Cefodizime
  • Cefpimizole
  • Cefsulodin
  • Cefteram
  • Ceftiolene
  • Oxacephem
  • Latamoxef

Antipseudomonal activity

  • Cefoperazone
  • Ceftazidime

These cephems are also sometimes grouped with third-generation cephalosporins:

  • Oxacephems
4th Generation
  • Cefclidine
  • Cefepime
  • Cefluprenam
  • Cefoselis
  • Cefozopran
  • Cefpirome
  • Cefquinome

These cephems are also fourth-generation cephalosporins

  • Oxacephems:
    • Flomoxef

Note:Cefquinome is not approved for human use. It is for veterinary medicine.

5th Generation
  • Ceftobiprole
  • Ceftaroline
  • Ceftolozane
Other: Generation These cephems have progressed far enough to be named, but have not been assigned to a particular generation

  • Cefaloram
  • Cefaparole
  • Cefcanel
  • Cefedrolor
  • Cefempidone
  • Cefetrizole
  • Cefivitril
  • Cefmatilen
  • Cefmepidium
  • Cefoxazole
  • Cefrotil
  • Cefsumide
  • Ceftioxide
  • Cefuracetime
  • Nitrocefin

Mechanism of Action of Cephalosporins

Cephalosporins are bactericidal and have the same mode of action as other β-lactam antibiotics (such as penicillins), but are less susceptible to β-lactamases. Cephalosporins disrupt the synthesis of the peptidoglycan layer forming the bacterial cell wall. The peptidoglycan layer is important for cell wall structural integrity. The final transpeptidation step in the synthesis of the peptidoglycan is facilitated by penicillin-binding proteins (PBPs). PBPs bind to the D-Ala-D-Ala at the end of muropeptides (peptidoglycan precursors) to crosslink the peptidoglycan. Beta-lactam antibiotics mimic the D-Ala-D-Ala site, thereby irreversibly inhibiting PBP crosslinking of peptidoglycan.

Indications of Cephalosporins

  • Urinary Tract Infection – e.g. cystitis, cystourethritis, uncomplicated pyelonephritis.
  • Otitis Media – Otitis caused by Haemophilus influenzaeMoraxella catarrhalis and Streptococcus pyogenes.
  • Tonsillitis
  • Bronchitis
  • Sinusitis.
  • Pharyngitis caused by Streptococcus pyogenes.
  • Pneumonia caused by Streptococcus pneumoniae and Haemophilus influenzae.
  • Typhoid fever.
  • Enteric fever
  • Gonorrhea
  • Osteomyelitis
  • Prevention of Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) / Renal Hypodysplasia, Nonsyndromic
  • Cervicitis, Vaginitis
  • Acute bronchitis and acute exacerbations of chronic bronchitis caused by Streptococcus pneumoniae and Haemophilus influenzae
  • Gonococcal Infection – Uncomplicated or Disseminated
  • STD Prophylaxis
  • Acute Bacterial Exacerbation of Chronic Bronchitis (ABECB)
  • Bacterial Infections
  • Bloodstream Infections
  • Bone and Joint Infections
  • Gonorrhea
  • Impetigo
  • Infected animal bite
  • Lower Respiratory Tract Infection (LRTI)

Contraindications of Cephalosporins

  • Clostridium difficile infection
  • The decrease in the Blood-Clotting Protein Prothrombin
  • Increased risk of bleeding due to the clotting disorder
  • Liver problems
  • Kidney disease with the reduction in kidney function
  • Allergies to cephalosporins & beta-lactams
  • Hypersensitivity to the active substance or to any of the excipients
  • Patients with known hypersensitivity to cephalosporin antibiotics.
  • History of severe hypersensitivity (e.g. anaphylactic reaction) to any other type of beta-lactam antibacterial agent (penicillins, monobactams, and carbapenems).

Side Effects Cephalosporins

The most common

More common

  • diarrhea
  • fever
  • the general feeling of illness or discomfort
  • a headache
  • itching of the vagina or genital area
  • pain during sexual intercourse
  • rigidity
  • sweating
  • thick, white vaginal discharge with no odor or with a mild odor

Less common

  • Black, tarry stools
  • chest pain
  • a cough
  • loose stools
  • painful or difficult urination
  • shortness of breath
  • a sore throat
  • sores, ulcers, or white spots on the lips or in the mouth
  • swollen glands
  • unusual bleeding or bruising
  • unusual tiredness or weakness


Drug Interactions of Cephalosporins

Cephalosporins may interact with the following drugs, supplements & may change the efficacy of the drug


  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cephalosporin
  2. https://www.drugs.com/drug-class/cephalosporins.html
  3. https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov

  4. https://www.webmd.com/drugs/2/drug-11757/cephalexin-oral/details
  5. PubChem



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