The objective of this study was to find an optimal initial combination chemotherapy that includes clarithromycin (CAM) for treatment-naive patients with Mycobacterium avium complex (MAC) pulmonary disease, as assessed by microbiological conversion using a Mycobacterium growth indicator tube (MGIT).
Thirty-four patients with treatment-naive MAC pulmonary disease (determined using 1997 American Thoracic Society criteria) were evaluated retrospectively. They demonstrated a nodular and bronchiectatic pattern without cavity on high-resolution CT (HRCT) scans. The following three regimens were administered: regimen A (n = 9) consisted of CAM (400 mg/d), ethambutol (EB) [750 mg/d], and rifampicin (RFP) [450 mg/d]; regimen B (n = 12) consisted of CAM (800 mg/d), EB (750 mg/d), and RFP (450 mg/d); and regimen C (n = 13) consisted of CAM (800 mg/d), EB (1,000 mg/d), and RFP (600 mg/d) during the first 2 months followed by a reduction of the dosage of EB from 1,000 to 750 mg/d. Gender, age, BMI, and HRCT scan finding scores were not significantly different among the three groups. Chemotherapy was continued for 18 months. Sputum culture was periodically assessed by MGIT.
Culture conversion at 18 months in regimen A (55.6%), which included a daily dosage of 400 mg of CAM (9.5 mg/kg), was significantly inferior to that in regimen B (91.7%), which included daily 800 mg of CAM (17.6 mg/kg; p < 0.05), but regimen B and C (92.3%) showed no between-group difference after > 18 months of chemotherapy.
The higher dose of CAM allowed for better culture conversion. Daily combination chemotherapy that includes CAM (800 mg) seems appropriate as an initial treatment against treatment-naive patients with nodular and bronchiectatic MAC pulmonary disease.