Azithromycin for Prevention of Exacerbations of COPD

National Jewish Health, Denver, Colorado, United States
New England Journal of Medicine (Impact Factor: 55.87). 08/2011; 365(8):689-98. DOI: 10.1056/NEJMoa1104623
Source: PubMed


Acute exacerbations adversely affect patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Macrolide antibiotics benefit patients with a variety of inflammatory airway diseases.
We performed a randomized trial to determine whether azithromycin decreased the frequency of exacerbations in participants with COPD who had an increased risk of exacerbations but no hearing impairment, resting tachycardia, or apparent risk of prolongation of the corrected QT interval.
A total of 1577 subjects were screened; 1142 (72%) were randomly assigned to receive azithromycin, at a dose of 250 mg daily (570 participants), or placebo (572 participants) for 1 year in addition to their usual care. The rate of 1-year follow-up was 89% in the azithromycin group and 90% in the placebo group. The median time to the first exacerbation was 266 days (95% confidence interval [CI], 227 to 313) among participants receiving azithromycin, as compared with 174 days (95% CI, 143 to 215) among participants receiving placebo (P<0.001). The frequency of exacerbations was 1.48 exacerbations per patient-year in the azithromycin group, as compared with 1.83 per patient-year in the placebo group (P=0.01), and the hazard ratio for having an acute exacerbation of COPD per patient-year in the azithromycin group was 0.73 (95% CI, 0.63 to 0.84; P<0.001). The scores on the St. George's Respiratory Questionnaire (on a scale of 0 to 100, with lower scores indicating better functioning) improved more in the azithromycin group than in the placebo group (a mean [±SD] decrease of 2.8±12.8 vs. 0.6±11.4, P=0.004); the percentage of participants with more than the minimal clinically important difference of -4 units was 43% in the azithromycin group, as compared with 36% in the placebo group (P=0.03). Hearing decrements were more common in the azithromycin group than in the placebo group (25% vs. 20%, P=0.04).
Among selected subjects with COPD, azithromycin taken daily for 1 year, when added to usual treatment, decreased the frequency of exacerbations and improved quality of life but caused hearing decrements in a small percentage of subjects. Although this intervention could change microbial resistance patterns, the effect of this change is not known. (Funded by the National Institutes of Health; number, NCT00325897.).

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    • "This innovative analytical approach to the in vivo monitoring of pulmonary inflammation through the analysis of bioluminescence in transiently transfected mice, can certainly be used to test different macrolide antibiotics for their effects on NF-jB activation, or, taking advantage of different vectors, to monitor different models of pathology (fibrosis, asthma etc.). As previously reported, azithromycin was also able to significantly reduce the concentrations of G-CSF within the airways, and this activity may result in a decrease in epithelial cells-dependent neutrophil survival within the airways (Yamasawa et al. 2004), and contribute to the reported effects, among others, on COPD exacerbations (Albert et al. 2011; Yamaya et al. 2012). "
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    ABSTRACT: We studied in vivo the potential involvement of nuclear factor-κB (NF-κB) pathway in the molecular mechanism of the anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory activity of azithromycin in the lung. Mice transiently transfected with the luciferase gene under the control of a NF-κB responsive element were used to assess in vivo NF-κB activation by bioluminescence imaging. Bioluminescence as well as inflammatory cells and concentrations of proinflammatory cytokines in bronchoalveolar lavage fluids, were monitored in an acute model of pulmonary inflammation resulting from intratracheal instillation of lipopolysaccharide. Lipopolysaccharide (LPS) instillation induced a marked increase in lung bioluminescence in mice transiently transfected with the luciferase gene under the control of an NF-κB responsive element, with significant luciferase expression in resident cells such as endothelial and epithelial cells, as assessed by duoplex immunofluorescence staining. Activation of NF-κB and inflammatory cell lung infiltration linearly correlated when different doses of bortezomib were used to inhibit NF-κB activation. Pretreatment with azithromycin significantly decreased lung bioluminescence and airways cell infiltration induced by LPS, also reducing proinflammatory cytokines concentrations in bronchoalveolar lavages and inhibiting NF-κB nuclear translocation. The results obtained using a novel approach to monitor NF-κB activation, provided, for the first time, in vivo evidence that azithromycin treatment results in pulmonary anti-inflammatory activity associated with the inhibition of NF-κB activation in the lung.
    Full-text · Article · Oct 2014
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    • "Subclinical mycobacterial disease can be present in patients with severe COPD and this may have implications for COPD management. Long term, prophylactic macrolide therapy has recently been suggested as a therapeutic strategy for COPD patients with regular infections [16]. Before commencing this however, it is important to screen for NTM disease as macrolide monotherapy is contraindicated in such instances, due to the risk of macrolide resistance and worse prognosis [2]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Background Patients with COPD are at risk of non-tuberculous mycobacterial infection (NTM). This study examined the histology of lung tissue from COPD patients following lung volume reduction with particular focus on evidence of mycobacterial infection. Methods Retrospective histological study of 142 consecutive lung volume reduction surgical specimens (126 separate patients) at Royal Brompton Hospital between 2000 – 2013, with prospectively collected preoperative data on exacerbation rate, lung function and body mass index. Results 92% of patients had at least one other histological diagnosis in addition to emphysema. 10% of specimens had histological evidence of mycobacterial infection, one with co-existent aspergilloma. Mycobacteria were only identified in those patients with granulomas that were necrotising. These patients had higher exacerbation rates, lower TLCO and FEV1. Conclusion A proportion of severe COPD patients will have evidence of mycobacterial infection despite lack of clinical and radiological suspicion. This may have implications for long-term management of these patients.
    Full-text · Article · Aug 2014 · BMC Pulmonary Medicine
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    • "The benefit achieved is greater than with other therapies such as corticosteroids or roflumilast (Spagnolo, et al., 2013). Long-term azithromycin both decreased frequency of exacerbations and enhanced quality of life in AECOPD, though with a small incidence of hearing decrements (Albert, et al., 2011). Azithromycin given for several months to patients with COPD also increased efferocytosis in airway macrophages, indicating an immunomodulatory component to its efficacy (Hodge & Reynolds, 2012). "
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    ABSTRACT: Azithromycin is a macrolide antibiotic which inhibits bacterial protein synthesis, quorum-sensing and reduces the formation of biofilm. Accumulating effectively in cells, particularly phagocytes, it is delivered in high concentrations to sites of infection, as reflected in rapid plasma clearance and extensive tissue distribution. Azithromycin is indicated for respiratory, urogenital, dermal and other bacterial infections, and exerts immunomodulatory effects in chronic inflammatory disorders, including diffuse panbronchiolitis, post-transplant bronchiolitis and rosacea. Modulation of host responses facilitates its long-term therapeutic benefit in cystic fibrosis, non-cystic fibrosis bronchiectasis, exacerbations of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and non-eosinophilic asthma. Initial, stimulatory effects of azithromycin on immune and epithelial cells, involving interactions with phospholipids and Erk1/2, are followed by later modulation of transcription factors AP-1, NFκB, inflammatory cytokine and mucin release. Delayed inhibitory effects on cell function and high lysosomal accumulation accompany disruption of protein and intracellular lipid transport, regulation of surface receptor expression, of macrophage phenotype and autophagy. These later changes underlie many immunomodulatory effects of azithromycin, contributing to resolution of acute infections and reduction of exacerbations in chronic airway diseases. A sub-group of post-transplant bronchiolitis patients appears to be sensitive to azithromycin, as may be patients with severe sepsis. Other promising indications include chronic prostatitis and periodontitis, but weak activity in malaria is unlikely to prove crucial. Long-term administration of azithromycin must be balanced against the potential for increased bacterial resistance. Azithromycin has a very good record of safety, but recent reports indicate rare cases of cardiac torsades des pointes in patients at risk.
    Full-text · Article · Aug 2014 · Pharmacology [?] Therapeutics
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