Review Article: Rifabutin in the Treatment of Refractory Helicobacter Pylori Infection

Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2012 Jan;35(2):209-21. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2036.2011.04937.x. Epub 2011 Nov 30.


Background: Even with the current most effective treatment regimens, a relevant proportion of patients will fail to eradicate Helicobacter pylori infection.

Aim: To evaluate the role of rifabutin in the treatment of H. pylori infection.

Methods: Bibliographical searches were performed in MEDLINE. Data on the efficacy of rifabutin-containing regimens on H. pylori eradication were combined and meta-analysed using the generic inverse variance method.

Results: Rifabutin shows good in vitro activity against H. pylori. Mean H. pylori rifabutin resistance rate (calculated from 11 studies including 2982 patients) was 1.3% (95% confidence interval = 0.9-1.7%). When only studies including patients naïve to H. pylori eradication treatment were considered, this figure was even lower (0.6%). On the other hand, higher values of rifabutin resistance were calculated (1.59%) when only post-treatment patients were considered. Overall, mean H. pylori eradication rate (intention-to-treat analysis) with rifabutin-containing regimens (1008 patients) was 73% (67-79%). Respective cure rates for second-line (223 patients), third-line (342 patients) and fourth/fifth-line (95 patients) rifabutin therapies were 79% (67-92%), 66% (55-77%) and 70% (60-79%) respectively. For treating H. pylori infection, almost all studies have administered rifabutin 300 mg/day; this dose seems to be more effective than 150 mg/day. The ideal length of treatment remains unclear, but 10- to 12-day regimens are generally recommended. The mean rate of adverse effects was 22% (19-25%). Myelotoxicity is the most significant, although this complication was rare. Until now, all patients have recovered of leucopenia uneventfully in a few days, and there have been no reports of infection or other adverse outcomes related to it.

Conclusion: Rifabutin-containing rescue therapy constitutes an encouraging strategy after multiple (usually three) previous eradication failures with key antibiotics such as amoxicillin, clarithromycin, metronidazole, tetracycline and levofloxacin.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Drug Resistance, Bacterial
  • Helicobacter Infections / drug therapy*
  • Helicobacter pylori / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Rifabutin / therapeutic use*
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Rifabutin