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Int J Antimicrob Agents. 2009 May;33(5):394-404. doi: 10.1016/j.ijantimicag.2008.09.010. Epub 2008 Dec 18.

Therapeutic options for Burkholderia cepacia infections beyond co-trimoxazole: a systematic review of the clinical evidence.

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  • 1Alfa Institute of Biomedical Sciences (AIBS), 9 Neapoleos Street, 151 23 Marousi, Athens, Greece.


Burkholderia cepacia complex (BCC) is an important group of pathogens affecting patients with cystic fibrosis and chronic granulomatous disease as well as immunocompromised and hospitalised patients. Therapeutic options are limited owing to high levels of resistance of the organism, either intrinsic or acquired, to many antimicrobial agents. Co-trimoxazole (trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole) has been a drug of choice. However, in some cases it cannot be administered because of allergic or hypersensitivity reactions, intolerance or resistance. We systematically searched for relevant publications including clinical data in PubMed and Scopus. The search identified 48 relevant case reports (57 cases) and 8 cohort studies or trials. Nineteen (33.3%) of 57 patients included in the case reports received ceftazidime-based regimens, 14 (73.7%) of whom were cured. Meropenem was administered in seven patients (12.3%), one (14.3%) of whom improved and five (71.4%) were cured. Seven (12.3%) of 57 cases were treated with penicillins, four of which were piperacillin (all had a favourable outcome). Based on the data reported in the eight relevant cohort studies or trials identified, favourable outcomes were observed in 68.4% (26/38) to 100% (16/16) of cases treated with ceftazidime and 66.7% (6/9) of cases treated with meropenem. Also, 9/12 (75%) of patients receiving penicillins improved. Thus, Ceftazidime, meropenem and penicillins, mainly piperacillin, either alone or in combination with other antimicrobial agents, may be considered as alternative options for BCC infections, according to the in vitro antimicrobial susceptibility patterns and clinical results. However, the available clinical data are not sufficient and further clinical experience is required to clarify the appropriateness of these antibiotics for BCC infections.

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