Resistance to metronidazole, clarithromycin and levofloxacin of Helicobacter pylori before and after clarithromycin-based therapy in Taiwan


Professor Bor-Shyang Sheu, Department of Internal Medicine, National Cheng Kung University Hospital, 138 Sheng Li Road, Tainan 70428, Taiwan. Email:


Background and Aim:  Clarithromycin-based triple therapy has been commonly applied as the first-line therapy for Helicobacter pylori eradication. Levofloxacin could serve as an alternative in either first-line or second-line regimens. This study surveyed the prevalence of levofloxacin resistance of H. pylori isolates in naive patients and in patients with a failed clarithromycin-based triple therapy.

Methods:  The study collected the H. pylori isolates from 180 naive patients and 47 patients with a failed clarithromycin-based triple therapy. Their in vitro antimicrobial resistance was determined by E-test.

Results:  The naive H. pylori isolates had resistance rates for amoxicillin, levofloxacin, clarithromycin and metronidazole of 0%, 9.4%, 10.6% and 26.7%, respectively. An evolutional increase of the primary levofloxacin resistance was observed in isolates collected after 2004, as compared to isolates collected before 2004 (16.3% vs 3.2%, P = 0.003). There was no evolutional increment of the primary clarithromycin resistance. The clarithromycin resistance elevated significantly after a failed clarithromycin-based triple therapy (78.7% vs 10.6%, P < 0.001). The post-treatment isolates remained to have a levofloxacin resistance rate of near 17%, but the levofloxacin-resistant isolates were correlated with a higher incidence of metronidazole resistance (P = 0.023). No strain was found to be resistant to amoxicillin even after eradication failure.

Conclusion:  The levofloxacin resistance of naive H. pylori remains less than 10% in Taiwan. With relatively lower resistance to levofloxacin than to metronidazole of the H. pylori isolates collected after a failed clarithromycin-based therapy, proton pump inhibitor–levofloxacin–amoxicillin may be an alternative choice to serve as the second-line therapy.