MDR-TB is a growing threat to international health. A recent report from WHO estimated that over 440,000 new cases of MDR-TB occurred in 127 countries in 2008, causing 150,000 deaths;this represents a 55% increase in the number of cases since 2000. Current treatment regimens have only a 58-67% success rate, and as many as 20% of those who fail to respond to treatment die of tuberculosis;those who do not die become chronic carriers and spread MDR-TB to others. Fluoroquinolones (FQ) are an essential part of regimens for the treatment of MDR-TB;substantially better outcomes have consistently been seen in patients with MDR-TB who are treated with FQ, and newer FQ (levofloxacin, gatifloxacin and moxifloxacin) are the most potent antituberculosis agents available for MDR-TB treatment. However, gatifloxacin has been taken off the market because of dysglycemic reactions and moxifloxacin produces marked QT prolongation, increasing risk of fatal arrhythmia. In contrast, QT studies of levofloxacin have found minimal prolongation at doses up to (20mg/kg). Levofloxacin is currently given for TB at doses of 11-14 mg/kg/day and has been well tolerated at doses up to 20 mg/kg. Although the efficacy of levofloxacin increases as exposure increases both in animal studies of TB and in human studies of gram-negative bacteria, its efficacy at higher doses against TB in humans has not been studied. Thus, determination of the most efficacious and well-tolerated dose of levofloxacin is an important research priority. In this Phase 2 study, we will determine the levofloxacin dose and exposure that achieve the greatest reduction in mycobacterial burden with acceptable tolerability by studying 100 adults with smear- and culture-positive pulmonary MDR-TB at sites in Peru and South Africa. Levofloxacin will be administered with an optimized background regimen (OBR) to address the following Specific Aims:
Specific Aim 1 : To determine the levofloxacin AUC/MIC that provides the shortest time to sputum culture conversion in solid medium.
Specific Aim 2 : To determine the highest levofloxacin AUC that is both safe and associated with fewer than 25% of patients discontinuing or reducing their dose of levofloxacin.
Specific Aim 3 : To develop a dosing algorithm to achieve the levofloxacin AUC associated with maximal efficacy and acceptable safety/tolerability. This clinical trial will increase our ability to cure MDR-TB and prevent the emergence of resistance to new TB drug classes by optimizing dosing and improving the effectiveness of an existing antimycobacterial agent, using a novel and versatile study design which more rapidly and efficiently identifies advances in this critical area. Construction of an algorithm to predict the optimal levofloxacin dose will allow more effective use of levofloxacin, particularly in areas with limited resources, where the burden of MDR-TB is the greatest.

Public Health Relevance

Multi-drug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) affects nearly 500,000 persons each year around the world. This type of tuberculosis is very difficult to treat, and many patients die from it. Drugs of the fluoroquinolone class are very important for treating MDR-TB, but the best dose of one of the most effective fluoroquinolones, levofloxacin, is not known. This application proposes a study to determine the best dose of levofloxacin to use in treating MDR-TB. The patients will receive their usual treatment, plus levofloxacin at one of four doses. The study will be performed in Peru and South Africa, where MDR-TB is common.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)
Research Project--Cooperative Agreements (U01)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
Special Emphasis Panel (ZAI1)
Program Officer
Mason, Robin M
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
Boston University
Public Health & Prev Medicine
Schools of Public Health
United States
Zip Code
Peloquin, Charles A; Phillips, Patrick P J; Mitnick, Carole D et al. (2018) Increased Doses Lead to Higher Drug Exposures of Levofloxacin for Treatment of Tuberculosis. Antimicrob Agents Chemother 62:
Bouton, Tara C; Phillips, Patrick P J; Mitnick, Carole D et al. (2017) An optimized background regimen design to evaluate the contribution of levofloxacin to multidrug-resistant tuberculosis treatment regimens: study protocol for a randomized controlled trial. Trials 18:563
Hermans, Sabine; Horsburgh Jr, C Robert; Wood, Robin (2015) A Century of Tuberculosis Epidemiology in the Northern and Southern Hemisphere: The Differential Impact of Control Interventions. PLoS One 10:e0135179