Background: A three-drug regimen (macrolide, ethambutol, and rifampicin) is recommended for the treatment of Mycobacterium avium complex pulmonary disease (MAC-PD). Although macrolide has proven efficacy, the role of ethambutol and rifampicin in patients without acquired immune deficiency syndrome is not proven with clinical studies. We aimed to clarify the roles of ethambutol and rifampicin in the treatment of MAC-PD. Methods: Patients treated for MAC-PD between March 1st, 2009 and October 31st, 2018 were reviewed retrospectively. Rates of culture conversion, microbiological cure, treatment failure, and recurrence were compared according to the maintenance (≥6 months) of ethambutol or rifampicin with macrolide. Results: Among the 237 patients, 122 (51.5%) maintained ethambutol and rifampicin with macrolide, 58 (24.5%) maintained ethambutol and macrolide, 32 (13.5%) maintained rifampicin and macrolide, and 25 (10.6%) maintained macrolide only. Culture conversion was reached for 190/237 (80.2%) patients and microbiological cure was achieved for 129/177 (72.9%) who completed the treatment. Treatment failure despite ≥12 months of treatment was observed in 66/204 (32.4%), and recurrence was identified in 16/129 (12.4%) who achieved microbiological cure. Compared with maintenance of macrolide only, maintenance of ethambutol, rifampicin or both with macrolide were associated with higher odds of culture conversion [odds ratio (OR), 95% confidence interval (CI): 18.06, 3.67-88.92; 15.82, 2.38-105.33; and 17.12, 3.93-74.60, respectively]. Higher odds of microbiological cure were associated with maintenance of both ethambutol and rifampicin with macrolide (OR, 95% CI: 5.74, 1.54-21.42) and macrolide and ethambutol (OR, 95% CI: 5.12, 1.72-15.24) but not macrolide and rifampicin. Maintenance of both ethambutol and rifampicin with macrolide was associated with lower odds of treatment failure (OR, 95% CI: 0.09, 0.01-0.53) compared with macrolide only, while maintenance of one of these with macrolide was not. Maintenance of both ethambutol and rifampicin or one of these with macrolide did not decrease the probability of recurrence when compared with macrolide only. Conclusions: Maintenance (≥6 months) of ethambutol and rifampicin with macrolide was associated with the most favorable treatment outcomes among patients with MAC-PD. Given the association between ongoing ethambutol use and microbiological cure, clinicians should maintain ethambutol unless definite adverse events develop.
- Mycobacterium avium complex pulmonary disease