Background: Systemic corticosteroids have anti-inflammatory effects, whereas macrolides also have immunomodulatory activity in addition to their primary antimicrobial actions. We aimed to evaluate the potential interaction effect between corticosteroids and macrolides on the systemic inflammatory response in patients with severe community-acquired pneumonia to determine if combining these two immunomodulating agents was harmful, or possibly beneficial. Methods: We performed a post-hoc exploratory analysis of a randomized clinical trial conducted in three tertiary hospitals in Spain. This trial included patients with severe community-acquired pneumonia with high inflammatory response (C-reactive protein [CRP] >15 mg/dL) who were randomized to receive methylprednisolone 0.5 mg/kg/tpd or placebo. The choice of antibiotic treatment was at the physician's discretion. One hundred and six patients were classified into four groups according to antimicrobial therapy combination (β-lactam plus macrolide or β-lactam plus fluoroquinolone) and corticosteroid arm (placebo or corticosteroids). The primary outcome was treatment failure (composite outcome of early treatment failure, or of late treatment failure, or of both early and late treatment failure). Results: The methylprednisolone with β-lactam plus macrolide group had more elderly patients, with comorbidities, and higher pneumonia severity index (PSI) risk class V, but a lower proportion of intensive care unit admission, compared to the other groups. We found non differences in treatment failure between groups (overall p = 0.374); however, a significant difference in late treatment failure was observed (4 patients in the placebo with β-lactam plus macrolide group (31%) vs. 9 patients in the placebo with β-lactam plus fluoroquinolone group (24%) vs. 0 patients in the methylprednisolone with β-lactam plus macrolide group (0%) vs. 2 patients [5%] in the methylprednisolone with β-lactam plus fluoroquinolone group overall p = 0.009). We found a significant difference for In-hospital mortality in the per protocol population (overall p = 0.01). We did not find significant differences in treatment failure, early or late; or In-hospital mortality after adjusting for severity (PSI), year and centre of enrolment. Conclusions: In this exploratory analysis, we observed that the glucocorticosteroids and macrolides combination had no statistically significant association with main clinical outcomes compared with other combinations in patients with severe community acquired pneumonia and a high inflammatory response after taking account potential confounders.
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© 2017 Ceccato et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.