Factors related to response to intermittent treatment of Mycobacterium avium complex lung disease

Phung K. Lam, David E. Griffith, Timothy R. Aksamit, Stephen J. Ruoss, Stuart M. Garay, Charles L. Daley, Antonino Catanzaro

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

128 Scopus citations


Rationale: Mycobacterium avium complex pulmonary disease (MACPD) is associated with substantial morbidity, and standard daily multidrug therapy is difficult to tolerate. Objectives: To characterize response to a three-times-weekly (TIW) regimen of clarithromycin, ethambutol, and rifampin. Methods: A 1-yr prospective noncomparative trial of TIW treatment was conducted during 2000-2003 in 17 U.S. cities. Participants were 91 HIV-negative adults, diagnosed with moderate to severe MACPD, who originally participated in a trial of an inhaled IFN-γ treatment. Improvement in sputum culture, high-resolution computed tomography (HRCT), and symptoms were assessed. Results: Treatment response rates (and median response times) were 44% (2 mo or longer) for culture, 60% (5.5-11.5 mo) for HRCT, and 53% (8.5 mo) for symptoms. Having noncavitary, compared with cavitary, disease increased culture response by 4.0 times (95% confidence interval [CI], 1.7-9.2) and HRCT response by 4.9 times (95% CI, 1.9-13.0). Culture response was 1.5 times (95% CI, 1.1-2.2) higher for older subjects and 2.2 times (95% CI, 1.0-4.7) higher for previously untreated subjects. Being smear-negative increased culture response by 2.3 times (95% CI, 1.1-5.2) but decreased HRCT response by 4.4 times (95% CI, 1.7-11.5). Increasing ethambutol use by 5 mo increased culture response by 1.5 times (95% CI, 1.0-2.1) but decreased symptom response. Not having chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, bronchiectasis, or poor lung function increased symptom response by 1.9 to 3.9 times. Conclusions: TIW therapy was less effective for MAC-PD patients with cavitary disease and a history of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, bronchiectasis, or previous treatment for MAC-PD. Further research is needed to study the long-term outcomes of TIW treatment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1283-1289
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican journal of respiratory and critical care medicine
Issue number11
StatePublished - Jun 1 2006


  • Clarithromycin
  • Ethambutol
  • Mycobacterium avium complex
  • Rifampin
  • Risk factors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine


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