Sputum cultures are an important tool in monitoring the response to tuberculosis treatment, especially in multidrugresistant tuberculosis. There has, however, been little study of the effect of treatment regimen composition on culture conversion. Well-designed clinical trials of new anti-tuberculosis drugs require this information to establish optimized background regimens for comparison. We conducted a retrospective cohort study to assess whether the use of an aggressive multidrug-resistant tuberculosis regimen was associated with more rapid sputum culture conversion. We conducted Cox proportional-hazards analyses to examine the relationship between receipt of an aggressive regimen for the 14 prior consecutive days and sputum culture conversion. Sputum culture conversion was achieved in 519 (87.7%) of the 592 patients studied. Among patients who had sputum culture conversion, the median time to conversion was 59 days (IQR: 31-92). In 480 patients (92.5% of those with conversion), conversion occurred within the first six months of treatment. Exposure to an aggressive regimen was independently associated with sputum culture conversion during the first six months of treatment (HR: 1.36; 95% CI: 1.10, 1.69). Infection with human immunodeficiency virus (HR 3.36; 95% CI: 1.47, 7.72) and receiving less exposure to tuberculosis treatment prior to the individualized multidrug-resistant tuberculosis regimen (HR: 1.58; 95% CI: 1.28, 1.95) were also independently positively associated with conversion. Tachycardia (HR: 0.77; 95% CI: 0.61, 0.98) and respiratory difficulty (HR: 0.78; 95% CI: 0.62, 0.97) were independently associated with a lower rate of conversion. This study is the first demonstrating that the composition of the multidrug-resistant tuberculosis treatment regimen influences the time to culture conversion. These results support the use of an aggressive regimen as the optimized background regimen in trials of new anti-TB drugs.
Tierney, D. B., Franke, M. F., Becerra, M. C., Virú, F. A. A., Bonilla, C. A., Sánchez, E., … Mitnick, C. D. (2014). Time to culture conversion and regimen composition in multidrug-resistant tuberculosis treatment. PLoS ONE, 9(9). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0108035