Fluoroquinolones for treating tuberculosis

Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2008 Jan 23;(1):CD004795. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD004795.pub3.


Background: Fluoroquinolones are sometimes used to treat multiple-drug-resistant and drug-sensitive tuberculosis. The effects of fluoroquinolones in tuberculosis regimens need to be assessed.

Objectives: To assess fluoroquinolones as additional or substitute components to antituberculous drug regimens for drug-sensitive and drug-resistant tuberculosis.

Search strategy: In July 2007, we searched the Cochrane Infectious Diseases Group Specialized Register, CENTRAL (The Cochrane Library 2007, Issue 3), MEDLINE, EMBASE, LILACS, Science Citation Index, Database of Russian Publications, and metaRegister of Controlled Trials. We also scanned reference lists of all identified studies and contacted researchers.

Selection criteria: Randomized controlled trials of antituberculous regimens containing fluoroquinolones in people diagnosed with bacteriologically positive (sputum smear or culture) pulmonary tuberculosis.

Data collection and analysis: Two authors independently applied inclusion criteria, assessed methodological quality, and extracted data. We used relative risk (RR) for dichotomous data, weighted mean difference (WMD) for continuous data (both with 95% confidence intervals (CI)), and the random-effects model if we detected heterogeneity and it was appropriate to combine data.

Main results: Eleven trials (1514 participants) met the inclusion criteria. No statistically significant difference was found in trials substituting ciprofloxacin, ofloxacin or moxifloxacin for first-line drugs in relation to cure (416 participants, 3 trials), treatment failure (388 participants, 3 trials), or clinical or radiological improvement (216 participants, 2 trials). Substituting ciprofloxacin into first-line regimens in drug-sensitive tuberculosis led to a higher incidence of relapse (RR 7.17, 95% CI 1.33 to 38.58; 384 participants, 3 trials) and longer time to sputum culture conversion (WMD 0.50 months, 95% CI 0.18 to 0.82; 168 participants, 1 trial), although this was confined to HIV-positive participants. Substituting for ethambutol in first-line regimens led to a higher incidence of total number of adverse events (RR 1.34, 95% CI 1.05 to 1.72; 492 participants, 2 trials). Adding or substituting levofloxacin to basic regimens in drug-resistant areas had no effect. A comparison of sparfloxacin versus ofloxacin added to regimens showed no statistically significant difference in cure (184 participants, 2 trials), treatment failure (149 participants, 2 trials), or the total number of adverse events (253 participants, 3 trials).

Authors' conclusions: Only ciprofloxacin, ofloxacin, levofloxacin, sparfloxacin and moxifloxacin have been tested in randomized controlled trials for treating tuberculosis. We cannot recommend ciprofloxacin in treating tuberculosis. Trials of newer fluoroquinolones for treating tuberculosis are needed and are on-going. No difference has been demonstrated between sparfloxacin and ofloxacin in drug-resistant tuberculosis.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Antitubercular Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Ciprofloxacin / therapeutic use
  • Fluoroquinolones / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Levofloxacin
  • Ofloxacin / therapeutic use
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Tuberculosis, Multidrug-Resistant / drug therapy*
  • Tuberculosis, Pulmonary / drug therapy*


  • Antitubercular Agents
  • Fluoroquinolones
  • Ciprofloxacin
  • Levofloxacin
  • Ofloxacin