Objective Crohn’s disease (CD) pathogenesis associated with dysbiosis and presence of pathobionts in the lumen, intracellular compartments and epithelial biofilms. Azithromycin is active in all three compartments. Our goal was to evaluate if azithromycin-based therapy can improve response and induce remission compared with metronidazole alone in paediatric CD.
Design This blinded randomised controlled trial allocated children 5–18 years with 10<Pediatric Crohn’s Disease Activity Index (PCDAI)≤40 to azithromycin 7.5 mg/kg, 5 days/week for 4 weeks and 3 days/week for another 4 weeks with metronidazole 20 mg/kg/day (group 1) or metronidazole alone (group 2), daily for 8 weeks. Failures from group 2 were offered azithromycin as open label. The primary end point was response defined by a decrease in PCDAI>12.5 or remission using intention to treat analysis.
Results 73 patients (mean age 13.8±3.1 years) were enrolled, 35 to group 1 and 38 to group 2. Response and remission rates at week 8 were identical 23/35 (66%) in group 1 and 17/38 (45%) and 15/38 (39%) in group 2 (P=0.07 and P=0.025, respectively). The needed to treat for remission was 3.7. Faecal calprotectin declined significantly in group 1 (P=0.003) but not in group 2 (p=0.33), and was lower at week 8 (P=0.052). Additional therapy was required in 6/35(17%) from group 1 versus 16/38(42%) in group 2 (P=0.027) by week 8. Among 12 failures in group 2, open-label azithromycin led to remission in 10/12 (83%).
Conclusions The combination of azithromycin and metronidazole failed to improve response but was superior for induction of remission and reduction in calprotectin.
Trial registration number NCT01596894.
- crohn’s disease
- inflammatory bowel disease
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Contributors AL: design of study, grant, patient enrolment and preparation of manuscript; DT: design of the study and patient enrolment. RSB: data collection and analysis and study management; AB: study organisation; MB:statistical analysis; GA: cal protection analysis; MC, JK, MS, JE, EW, BY, JAD,RS, GVW: patient recruitment.
Funding This study was supported by a grant from the Broad Medical Research Program of the Broad Foundation (BMRP IBD-337) to AL.
Competing interests None declared.
Patient consent Detail has been removed from this case description/these case descriptions to ensure anonymity. The editors and reviewers have seen the detailed information available and are satisfied that the information backs up the case the authors are making.
Ethics approval Ethical committees of all participating institutions.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.
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