Flucloxacillin and paracetamol induced pyroglutamic acidosis

No Thumbnail Available
File version
Zand Irani, Anis
Borchert, Grace
Craven, Brendan
Gibbons, Holly
Griffith University Author(s)
Primary Supervisor
Other Supervisors
File type(s)

A 75-year-old woman was admitted to a regional hospital with an acute kidney injury (AKI) and nausea on a background of recent treatment for Staphylococcus aureus bacteraemia secondary to pneumonia. The treatment thereof resulted in a high anion gap metabolic acidosis (HAGMA). The pneumonia was initially treated with intravenous piperacillin and tazobactam and the patient transferred to a tertiary hospital. There, the diagnosis of S. aureus bacteraemia secondary to a pulmonary source was confirmed and treatment was changed to intravenous flucloxacillin and the patient was discharged to hospital in the home (HITH is a service that allows short-term healthcare at home to be provided to people who would otherwise need to be in hospital) to complete the antibiotic course. Five weeks after commencing flucloxacillin, the patient was referred back to hospital with nausea and worsening kidney function with an associated significant HAGMA. The patient has a background of chronic kidney disease and chronic back pain for which she was taking long-term paracetamol. The HAGMA was determined to be due to a pyroglutamic acidosis (PGA), deemed secondary to the combined use of paracetamol and flucloxacillin. This was subsequently confirmed with a plasma pyroglutamic acid concentration level of 7467 µmol/L (reference range 20–50 µmol/L) and a urinary level of 1700 mmol/mol creatinine (<110 mmol/mol creatinine). To our knowledge, this is the highest plasma and urinary levels published to date. Furthermore, considering the common use of paracetamol and penicillins, it is important to recognise HAGMA as a potential complication of co-administration of paracetamol and iso-oxylopenicillin. The HAGMA resolved after cessation of flucloxacillin despite the continuation of paracetamol and without administration of N-acetylcysteine. PGA-related HAGMA appears to be a unique potential side effect of iso-oxylopenicillin rather than other beta-lactams.

Journal Title

BMJ Case Reports

Conference Title
Book Title




Thesis Type
Degree Program
Publisher link
Patent number
Grant identifier(s)
Rights Statement
Rights Statement
Item Access Status
Access the data
Related item(s)

Clinical sciences

contraindications and precautions

drug interactions

metabolic disorders

renal system

Persistent link to this record

Zand Irani, A; Borchert, G; Craven, B; Gibbons, H, Flucloxacillin and paracetamol induced pyroglutamic acidosis., BMJ Case Reports, 2021, 14 (1), pp. e237536-e237536