The intrapulmonary pharmacokinetics of azithromycin, clarithromycin, ciprofloxacin, and cefuroxime were studied in 68 volunteers who received single, oral doses of azithromycin (0.5 g), clarithormycin (0.5 g), ciprofloxacin (0.5 g), or cefuroxime (0.5 g). In subgroups of four subjects each, the subjects underwent bronchoscopy and bronchoalveolar lavage at timed intervals following drug administration. Drug concentrations, including those of 14-hydroxyclarithromycin (14H), were determined in serum, bronchoalveolar lavage fluid, and alveolar cells (ACs) by high-pressure liquid chromatography. Concentrations in epithelial lining fluid (ELF) were calculated by the urea diffusion method. The maximum observed concentrations (mean +/- standard deviation) of azithromycin, clarithromycin, 14H, ciprofloxacin, and cefuroxime in serum were 0.13 +/- 0.07, 1.0 +/- 0.6, 0.60 +/- 0.41, 0.95 +/- 0.32, and 1.1 +/- 0.3 microgram/ml, respectively (all at 6 h). None of the antibiotics except clarithromycin (39.6 +/- 41.1 micrograms/ml) was detectable in ELF at the 6-h bronchoscopy. The movement into and persistence in cells was different for azithromycin and clarithromycin. In ACs azithromycin was not detectable at 6 h, reached its highest concentration at 120 h, and exhibited the greatest area under the curve (7,403 micrograms.hr ml-1). The peak concentration of clarithromycin (181 +/- 94.1 micrograms/ml) was greater and occurred earlier (6 h), but the area under the curve (2,006 micrograms.hr ml-1) was less than that observed for azithromycin. 14H was detectable in ACs at 6 h (40.3 +/- 5.2 micrograms/ml) and 12 h (32.8 +/- 57.2 micrograms/ml). The peak concentration of ciprofloxacin occurred at 6 h (4.3 +/- 5.2 micrograms/ml), and the area under the curve was 35.0 micrograms.hr ml-1. The data indicate that after the administration of a single dose, azithromycin, clarithromycin, and ciprofloxacin penetrated into ACs in therapeutic concentrations and that only clarithromycin was present in ELF. The correlation of these kinetic observations with clinical efficacy or toxicity was not investigated and is unclear, but the data provide a basis for further kinetic and clinical studies.
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