Background: The effects of the macrolides cannot be ascribed to their antibacterial action alone. Their immunoregulatory and anti-inflammatory functions are significant too. They are frequently used in the treatment of diffuse panbronchiolitis and cystic fibrosis (CF).
Aim: To evaluate the effects of a macrolide antibiotic [clarithromycin (CAM)] on the process of inflammation [by measuring IL-8, TNF-α, IL-10 levels and cell profiles in bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) fluid], pulmonary function and sputum production in children with steady-state bronchiectasis, secondary to causes other than CF or primary immunodeficiencies.
Methods: Seventeen patients randomized to the treatment group received CAM and supportive therapies for 3 months and 17 patients in the control group were given supportive therapies only.
Results: Compared with the control group, the treatment group showed a significant decrease in IL-8 levels, total cell count, neutrophil ratios in BAL fluid and daily sputum production at the end of the third month. There was also a significant increase in the treatment group's BAL fluid macrophage ratios. The differences in pulmonary function test parameters were not significant.
Conclusion: Use of CAM in children with steady-state bronchiectasis results in laboratory improvement by reducing the inflammatory processes in the lungs. No corresponding clinical improvement could be shown but although this is possible with long-term use, trial validation is necessary.