Acute exacerbation (AE) of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) is a fatal condition without an established pharmaceutical treatment. Most patients are treated with high-dose corticosteroids and broad-spectrum antibiotics. Azithromycin is a macrolide with immunomodulatory activity and may be beneficial for treatment of acute lung injury. The objective of this study was to determine the effect of azithromycin on survival of patients with idiopathic AE of IPF.
We evaluated 85 consecutive patients hospitalized in our department for idiopathic AE of IPF from April 2005 to August 2016. The initial 47 patients were treated with a fluoroquinolone-based regimen (control group), and the following 38 consecutive patients were treated with azithromycin (500 mg/day) for 5 days. Idiopathic AE of IPF was defined using the criteria established by the 2016 International Working Group.
Mortality in patients treated with azithromycin was significantly lower than in those treated with fluoroquinolones (azithromycin, 26% vs. control, 70%; p < 0.001). Multivariate analysis revealed that the two variables were independently correlated with 60-day mortality as determined by the Acute Physiology and Chronic Health Evaluation II score (p = 0.002) and azithromycin use (p < 0.001).
Azithromycin may improve survival in patients with idiopathic AE of IPF.