Lack of synergistic nephrotoxicity between vancomycin and piperacillin/tazobactam in a rat model and a confirmatory cellular model

Gwendolyn M. Pais, Jiajun Liu, Sean N. Avedissian, Danielle Hiner, Theodoros Xanthos, Athanasios Chalkias, Ernesto D'Aloja, Emanuela Locci, Annette Gilchrist, Walter C. Prozialeck, Nathaniel J. Rhodes, Thomas P. Lodise, Julie C. Fitzgerald, Kevin J. Downes, Athena F. Zuppa, Marc H. Scheetz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


Vancomycin and piperacillin/tazobactam are reported in clinical studies to increase acute kidney injury (AKI). However, no clinical study has demonstrated synergistic toxicity, only that serum creatinine increases. To clarify the potential for synergistic toxicity between vancomycin, piperacillin/tazobactam and vancomycin + piperacillin/tazobactam treatments by quantifying kidney injury in a translational rat model of AKI and using cell studies. Methods: (i) Male Sprague-Dawley rats (n = 32) received saline, vancomycin 150 mg/kg/day intravenously, piperacillin/tazobactam 1400 mg/kg/day intraperitoneally or vancomycin + piperacillin/tazobactam for 3 days. Urinary biomarkers and histopathology were analysed. (ii) Cellular injury was assessed in NRK-52E cells using alamarBlue®. Results: Urinary output increased from Day -1 to Day 1 with vancomycin but only after Day 2 for vancomycin + piperacillin/tazobactam-treated rats. Plasma creatinine was elevated from baseline with vancomycin by Day 2 and only by Day 4 for vancomycin + piperacillin/tazobactam. Urinary KIM-1 and clusterin were increased with vancomycin from Day 1 versus controls (P < 0.001) and only on Day 3 with vancomycin + piperacillin/tazobactam (P < 0.001, KIM-1; P < 0.05, clusterin). The histopathology injury score was elevated only in the vancomycin group when compared with piperacillin/tazobactam as a control (P = 0.04) and generally not so with vancomycin + piperacillin/tazobactam. In NRK-52E cells, vancomycin induced cell death with high doses (IC50 48.76 mg/mL) but piperacillin/tazobactam did not, and vancomycin + piperacillin/tazobactam was similar to vancomycin. Conclusions: All groups treated with vancomycin demonstrated AKI; however, vancomycin + piperacillin/tazobactam was not worse than vancomycin. Histopathology suggested that piperacillin/tazobactam did not worsen vancomycin-induced AKI and may even be protective.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1228-1236
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2020
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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