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REVIEW ARTICLE
Year : 2011  |  Volume : 133  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 257-266

Recent developments in treatment of latent tuberculosis infection


Montreal Chest Institute, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Correspondence Address:
Dick Menzies
3650 St. Urbain Rm k1.24, Montreal, Quebec, H2X 2P4
Canada
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


PMID: 21441678

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Latent tuberculosis infection (LTBI) can be detected with immune based tests such as the tuberculin skin test (TST) or interferon gamma release assays (IGRA). Therapy for those with positive tests can reduce the subsequent risk of re-activation and development of active TB. Current standard therapy is isoniazid (INH) which reduce the risk of active TB by as much as 90 per cent if taken daily for 9 months. However, this lengthy duration of therapy discourages patients, and the risk of serious adverse events such as hepatotoxicity, discourages both patients and providers. As a result completion of INH therapy is less than 50 per cent in many programmes. However, programmes that offer close follow up with supportive staff who emphasize patient education, have reported much better results. The problems with INH have stimulated development and evaluation of several shorter regimens. One alternative was two months daily rifampin and pyrazinamide; this regimen has been largely abandoned due to unacceptably high rates of hepatotoxicity and poor tolerability. The combination of INH and rifampin, taken for 3 or 4 months, has efficacy equivalent to 6 months INH albeit with somewhat increased hepatotoxicity. Four months rifampin has efficacy at least equivalent to 6 months INH but there are inadequate trial data on efficacy. The safety of this regimen has been demonstrated repeatedly. Most recently, a regimen of 3 months INH rifapentine taken once weekly under direct observation has been evaluated in a large scale trial. Results have not yet been published, but if this regimen is as effective as INH, this may be a very good alternative. However, close monitoring and surveillance is strongly suggested for the first few years after its introduction. Evidence from several randomized trials has shown that the benefits of LTBI therapy is only in individuals who are tuberculin skin test (TST) positive even among those with HIV infection. Hence, LTBI therapy should be given only to those with positive tests for LTBI. We conclude that LTBI therapy is considerably underutilized in many settings, particularly in low and middle income countries.


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