Do fluoroquinolones predispose patients to Clostridium difficile associated disease? A review of the evidence

Curr Med Res Opin. 2008 Feb;24(2):329-33. doi: 10.1185/030079908x253735.


Background: Clostridium difficile associated diarrhea (CDAD) is an important cause of hospital-acquired diarrhea, and increasingly of community-acquired diarrhea. The occurrence of CDAD in the hospitalized patient is associated with increased length of stay, morbidity, mortality, and healthcare costs. Exposure to antimicrobials is the single most important predisposing factor for acquiring CDAD. The data suggesting that fluoroquinolones are an important risk factor for CDAD is becoming stronger. Also, different fluoroquinolones may pose different risks for CDAD development.

Objectives: The aim of this commentary is to summarize the literature as it relates to the role that fluoroquinolones may have in CDAD.

Methods: PubMed and Ovid MEDLINE were searched using the terms fluoroquinolones, ciprofloxacin, levofloxacin, gatifloxacin, and moxifloxacin in combination with C. difficile, CDAD, pseudomembranous colitis and antibiotic associated diarrhea.

Results: The evidence for an association between fluoroquinolone use and CDAD, especially CDAD due to the hypervirulent NAP1 strain or the polymerase chain reaction ribotype 027, is becoming stronger.

Conclusions: Fluoroquinolones appear to predispose patients to CDAD. The data are suggestive but not conclusive. More studies are needed to define the role that fluoroquinolones play in the development of CDAD. Meticulous and enhanced infection control practices at all times and the judicious use of antimicrobials will help contain the epidemic of CDAD.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / adverse effects
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / pharmacology*
  • Causality
  • Clostridioides difficile / pathogenicity*
  • Clostridium Infections / epidemiology*
  • Dysentery / epidemiology*
  • Fluoroquinolones / adverse effects
  • Fluoroquinolones / pharmacology*
  • Humans
  • Infection Control
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction / drug effects
  • Proteins / drug effects
  • Risk Factors
  • Virulence
  • tRNA Methyltransferases


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Fluoroquinolones
  • Proteins
  • TRMO protein, human
  • tRNA Methyltransferases