Background: Rifabutin has been empirically used in Helicobacter pylori infections resistant to triple therapy. There are no data on primary and secondary resistance to rifabutin and its use in specific cases.
Aim: To analyse the susceptibility and resistance to rifabutin in H. pylori-positive patients with or without previous H. pylori therapy and to test the efficacy of rifabutin in H. pylori resistant to clarithromycin and tinidazole.
Methods: Four hundred and twenty H. pylori-positive patients without previous exposure to triple therapy and 104 patients who had already received one course of triple therapy underwent upper endoscopy for dyspeptic symptoms and H. pylori susceptibility test. Amoxicillin, clarithromycin, tinidazole and rifabutin were evaluated for resistance and susceptibility. Forty patients with primary resistance to both clarithromycin and tinidazole and with susceptibility to amoxicillin and rifabutin, and 65 patients with secondary resistance and susceptibility to the same antibiotics were identified. All these patients received a 10-day triple therapy with pantoprazole amoxicillin and rifabutin. Treatment success was evaluated by the 13C-Urea Breath test.
Results: In naive patients 23% of strains were resistant to clarythromycin, 35% to tinidazole, 9% to both antibiotics, and none was resistant to rifabutin In patients already treated the percentages of resistant strains were 76, 64.4, 62.5 and 1%, respectively. With rifabutin based triple therapy eradication rates were (Per Protocol and Intention-to-Treat analysis) 100 and 87.5% in primary resistance to clarithromycin and tinidazole and 82.2 and 78.5% in secondary resistance.
Conclusion: H. pylori primary and secondary resistances to clarithromycin and tinidazole are high in our geographic area, while resistance to rifabutin is rare. Rifabutin-based triple therapy, can be successfully used in primary and secondary resistance to clarithromycin and tinidazole according to the in vitro susceptibility test.