Bactericidal activities of combinations of new drugs against Mycobacterium leprae in nude mice.
The bactericidal activities of 12 regimens with various combinations of new drugs (clarithromycin [CLARI], minocycline [MINO], and ofloxacin [OFLO]) and the standard antileprosy drugs, especially rifampin (RMP), were compared in nude mice with established Mycobacterium leprae infection. The longest duration of treatment was 24 weeks for intermittent (once every 4 weeks) therapy and 8 weeks for daily therapy. Bactericidal effects were monitored by titrating the proportion of viable M. leprae isolates by subinoculating the organisms into the footpads of immunocompetent and nude mice. The results indicate that RMP was more bactericidal than any combination of the new drugs. A single dose of CLARI-MINO, with or without OFLO, displayed bactericidal activity as great as that of 4 weeks of daily treatment with dapsone (DDS) plus clofazimine (CLO); thus, intermittent CLARI-MINO, with or without OFLO, may replace DDS and CLO of the standard multidrug regimen, and these will become regimens that can be administered monthly and under full supervision. Additional evidence that this may be the case is provided by the finding that intermittent RMP-CLARI-MINO or RMP-CLARI-MINO-OFLO administered for 12 or 24 weeks was as active as the standard multidrug regimen. While the intermittent treatment always displayed significantly greater bactericidal activity than the same number of doses of daily treatment, daily treatment with CLARI-MINO and CLARI-MINO-OFLO were more active than the drugs given as intermittent treatment for the same duration; therefore, unless these combinations are to be administered together with intermittent RMP, they should be given daily, especially for the treatment of RMP-resistant cases of infection. Finally, 12 weeks of daily treatment with DDS-CLO was more bactericidal than had been expected, suggesting that it may not be necessary to administer the standard multidrug regimen for multibacillary leprosy for as long as 24 months in order to minimize the risk of developing RMP resistance.