Long-term macrolide antibiotics in asthma therapy

Daisuke Takekoshi, Patrick Belvitch, Israel Rubinstein

DOI: https://doi.org/10.7175/rhc.v2i4.61

Abstract

Macrolide antibiotics drew worldwide attention when their use was dramatically successful in the treatment of diffuse panbronchiolitis in 1980s. The success was attributed to their immunomodulatory effects, rather than their antimicrobial properties. Since then, studies have shown that macrolides exert their immunomodulatory effects through several mechanisms, including suppression of proinflammatory cytokines, promoting apoptosis of inflammatory cells, improving phagocytic function, ameliorating airway hypersecretion, and inhibiting production of reactive oxygen species. Macrolides have also been studied in the treatment of asthma. This review highlights the role of macrolides in the treatment of asthma, presenting an overview of the main clinical trials. Despite favourable preclinical data and reports of anecdotal successes, the results of clinical trials are conflicting. This may be due to the heterogeneous nature of asthma. Further studies are needed to identify particular subgroup of asthma that will respond to macrolides.

Keywords

Macrolide; Asthma; Chronic inflammation; Immunomodulation; Noneosinophilic asthma

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