Activities of rifampin, rifapentine and clarithromycin alone and in combination against Mycobacterium ulcerans disease in mice

Deepak Almeida, Paul Converse, Zahoor Ahmad, Kelly Elise Dooley, Eric L. Nuermberger, Jacques H. Grosset

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


Background: Treatment of Mycobacterium ulcerans disease, or Buruli ulcer (BU), has shifted from surgery to treatment with streptomycin(STR)+rifampin(RIF) since 2004 based on studies in a mouse model and clinical trials. We tested two entirely oral regimens for BU treatment, rifampin(RIF)+clarithromycin(CLR) and rifapentine(RPT)+clarithromycin(CLR) in the mouse model. Methodology/Principal Findings: BALB/c mice were infected in the right hind footpad with M. ulcerans strain 1059 and treated daily (5 days/week) for 4 weeks, beginning 11 days after infection. Treatment groups included an untreated control, STR+RIF as a positive control, and test regimens of RIF, RPT, STR and CLR given alone and the RIF+CLR and RPT+CLR combinations. The relative efficacy of the drug treatments was compared on the basis of footpad CFU counts and median time to footpad swelling. Except for CLR, which was bacteriostatic, treatment with all other drugs reduced CFU counts by approximately 2 or 3 log10. Median time to footpad swelling after infection was 5.5, 16, 17, 23.5 and 36.5 weeks in mice receiving no treatment, CLR alone, RIF+CLR, RIF alone, and STR alone, respectively. At the end of follow-up, 39 weeks after infection, only 48%, 26.4% and 16.3% of mice treated with RPT+CLR, RPT alone and STR+RIF had developed swollen footpads. An in vitro checkerboard assay showed the interaction of CLR and RIF to be indifferent. However, in mice, co-administration with CLR resulted in a roughly 25% decrease in the maximal serum concentration (Cmax) and area under the serum concentration-time curve (AUC) of each rifamycin. Delaying the administration of CLR by one hour restored Cmax and AUC values of RIF to levels obtained with RIF alone. Conclusions/Significance: These results suggest that an entirely oral daily regimen of RPT+CLR may be at least as effective as the currently recommended combination of injected STR+oral RIF.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere933
JournalPLoS neglected tropical diseases
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Infectious Diseases


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