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Azithromycin Azithromycin, a 15-atom lactone macrolide ring compound, is derived from erythromycin by addition of a methylated nitrogen into the

lactone ring of erythromycin. Its spectrum of activity and clinical uses are virtually identical to those of clarithromycin. Azithromycin is active against M avium complex and T gondii. Azithromycin is slightly less active than erythromycin and clarithromycin against staphylococci and streptococci and slightly more active against H influenzae. Azithromycin is highly active against chlamydia. Azithromycin differs from erythromycin and clarithromycin mainly in pharmacokinetic properties. A 500 mg dose of azithromycin produces relatively low serum concentrations of approximately 0.4 g/mL. However, azithromycin penetrates into most tissues (except cerebrospinal fluid) and phagocytic cells extremely well, with tissue concentrations exceeding serum concentrations by 10to 100-fold. The drug is slowly released from tissues (tissue half-life of 24 days) to produce an elimination half-life approaching 3 days. These unique properties permit once-daily dosing and shortening of the duration of treatment in many cases. For example, a single 1 g dose of azithromycin is as effective as a 7-day course of doxycycline for chlamydial cervicitis and urethritis. Community-acquired pneumonia can be treated with azithromycin given as a 500 mg loading dose, followed by a 250 mg single daily dose for the next 4 days. Azithromycin is rapidly absorbed and well tolerated orally. It should be administered 1 hour before or 2 hours after meals. Aluminum and magnesium antacids do not alter bioavailability but delay absorption and reduce peak serum concentrations. Because it has a 15-member (not 14-member) lactone ring, azithromycin does not inactivate cytochrome P450 enzymes and therefore is free of the drug interactions that occur with erythromycin and clarithromycin. Ketolides

Erythromycin is effective against gram-positive organisms, especially pneumococci, streptococci,

staphylococci, and corynebacteria, in plasma concentrations of 0.022 g/mL. Mycoplasma, legionella, Chlamydia trachomatis, C psittaci, C pneumoniae, helicobacter, listeria, and certain mycobacteria (Mycobacterium kansasii, Mycobacterium scrofulaceum) are also susceptible. Gramnegative organisms such as neisseria species, Bordetella pertussis, Bartonella henselae, and B quintana (etiologic agents of cat-scratch disease and bacillary angiomatosis), some rickettsia species, Treponema pallidum, and campylobacter species are susceptible. Haemophilus influenzae is somewhat less susceptible. The antibacterial action of erythromycin may be inhibitory or bactericidal, particularly at higher concentrations, for susceptible organisms. Activity is enhanced at alkaline pH. Inhibition of protein synthesis occurs via binding to the 50S ribosomal RNA. Protein synthesis is inhibited because aminoacyl translocation reactions and the formation of initiation complexes are blocked (Figure 44

Resistance Resistance to erythromycin is usually plasmid-encoded. Three mechanisms have been identified: (1) reduced permeability of the cell membrane or active efflux; (2) production (by Enterobacteriaceae) of esterases that hydrolyze macrolides; and (3) modification of the ribosomal binding site (so-called ribosomal protection) by chromosomal mutation or by a macrolide-inducible or constitutive methylase. Efflux and methylase production account for the vast majority of cases of resistance in gram-positive organisms. Cross-resistance is complete between erythromycin and the other macrolides. Constitutive methylase production also confers resistance to structurally unrelated but mechanistically similar compounds such as clindamycin and streptogramin B (so-called macrolidelincosamide-streptogramin, or MLS-type B, resistance), which share the same ribosomal binding site. Because nonmacrolides are poor inducers of the methylase, strains expressing an inducible methylase will appear susceptible in vitro. However, constitutive mutants that are resistant can be

selected out and emerge during therapy with clindamycin. Pharmacokinetics Erythromycin base is destroyed by stomach acid and must be administered with enteric coating. Food interferes with absorption. Stearates and esters are fairly acid-resistant and somewhat better absorbed. The lauryl salt of the propionyl ester of erythromycin (erythromycin estolate) is the bestabsorbed oral preparation. Oral dosage of 2 g/d results in serum erythromycin base and ester concentrations of approximately 2 g/mL. However, only the base is microbiologically active, and its concentration tends to be similar regardless of the formulation. A 500 mg intravenous dose of erythromycin lactobionate produces serum concentrations of 10 g/mL 1 hour after dosing. The serum half-life is approximately 1.5 h normally and 5 hours in patients with anuria. Adjustment for renal failure is not necessary. Erythromycin is not removed by dialysis. Large amounts of an administered dose are excreted in the bile and lost in feces, and only 5% is excreted in the urine. Absorbed drug is distributed widely except to the brain and cerebrospinal fluid. Erythromycin is taken up by polymorphonuclear leukocytes and macrophages. It traverses the placenta and reaches the fetus.