Effect of selective bowel decontamination with norfloxacin on spontaneous bacterial peritonitis, translocation, and survival in an animal model of cirrhosis



Selective bowel decontamination with the orally administered quinolone antibiotic, norfloxacin, has been shown to suppress gut gram-negative bacteria and help prevent gram-negative infections in cirrhotic patients who are at high risk of bacterial infection. Because this drug does not eradicate gram-positive organisms, it is conceivable that gram-positives could replace the suppressed gram-negatives in the gut and lead to subsequent infection. Also the effect of norfloxacin on translocation (as defined by culture positivity of mesenteric lymph nodes) has received little attention. In this study, the effect of oral norfloxacin on translocation, bacterial peritonitis, and survival was investigated in an animal model of carbon tetrachloride—induced cirrhosis and ascites. Treated rats received daily doses of orally administered norfloxacin from the onset of cirrhosis until they died or were killed. Controls received no antibiotic. Norfloxacin led to a reduction in bacterial peritonitis from 70% in untreated cirrhotic controls to 28% in treated cirrhotic rats; these data were statistically significant (P = 0.012). There was no effect on overall translocation rate (28% with norfloxacin vs. 50% without norfloxacin) (P > 0.1). Gram-positives were isolated in 100% of the bacterial peritonitis episodes and in 71.4% of culture-positive mesenteric lymph nodes in treated animals compared with only 25% of peritonitis episodes and 10% of culture-positive mesenteric lymph nodes of untreated cirrhotic controls (P < 0.01 for peritonitis and P < 0.05 for translocation). The survival rate was not different between groups (P > 0.1). Although norfloxacin was associated with a 60% reduction in the overall rate of peritonitis, this drug increased the risk of gram-positive translocation and gram-positive peritonitis, and did not prolong survival in this animal model.