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Antimicrob Agents Chemother. 1994 Sep;38(9):1915-21.

Intracellular activity of azithromycin against bacterial enteric pathogens.

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  • 1Department of Internal Medicine, University of Texas Medical School at Houston 77030.


Azithromycin, a new azalide antibiotic, is active in vitro against a variety of enteric bacterial pathogens. Since it is concentrated inside human neutrophils and other cells, it might be particularly useful in the treatment of infections caused by enteropathogens that invade host tissues. The intracellular activity of azithromycin against several enteric pathogens that had been phagocytosed by neutrophils was determined. Azithromycin was effective in reducing the intracellular viabilities of almost all strains tested, including representative strains of Salmonella, Shigella, and enteroinvasive, enteropathogenic, enterotoxigenic, and enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli. Erythromycin was also effective in this model system, although azithromycin was generally more effective than erythromycin against strains of invasive enteric pathogens. Cefotaxime reduced intracellular bacterial viability to a lesser extent than either azithromycin or erythromycin. The presence of neutrophils did not significantly affect the activity of azithromycin in this system. Azithromycin may be a useful agent for the treatment of bacterial diarrhea, and clinical trials should be considered.

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