Long-term macrolides for non-cystic fibrosis bronchiectasis: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Respirology. 2014 Apr;19(3):321-9. doi: 10.1111/resp.12233. Epub 2014 Jan 13.


Long-term macrolides are increasingly being prescribed for stable bronchiectasis. This meta-analysis assessed the clinical effect of this treatment in bronchiectasis. A systematic review and meta-analysis were carried out. All randomized, controlled trials (RCT) comparing long-term macrolides with placebo and/or usual medical care, with outcome measures relating to efficacy and safety were selected. Nine RCT recruiting 530 patients were included. Compared with placebo and/or usual medical care, long-term macrolides significantly reduced the risk of the exacerbations (number of participants with exacerbations (relative risk = 0.70, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.60-0.82, P < 0.00001); average exacerbations per participant (weighted mean difference = -1.01, 95% CI -1.35 to -0.67, P < 0.00001)), the St George's Respiratory Questionnaire total scores (weighted mean difference = -5.39 95% CI -9.89 to -0.88, P = 0.02), dyspnoea scale (weighted mean difference = -0.31 95% CI -0.42 to -0.20, P < 0.00001), 24-h sputum volume (P < 0.00001), and attenuated the decline of forced expiratory volume in 1 s (weighted mean difference 0.02 L, 95% CI 0.00-0.04, P = 0.01). Eradication of pathogens (P = 0.06), overall rate of adverse events (P = 0.61), and emergence of new pathogens (P = 0.61) were not elevated, while gastrointestinal events increased significantly with macrolides (P = 0.0001). Macrolide resistance increased, but a meta-analysis was not possible due to the diversity of parameters. Long-term use of macrolides appears to be a treatment option for stable bronchiectasis. The results of this review justify further investigation about adding this intervention to the treatment regimens of bronchiectasis.

Keywords: bronchiectasis; efficacy; long term; macrolide; meta-analysis.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Bronchiectasis / drug therapy*
  • Cystic Fibrosis / drug therapy*
  • Forced Expiratory Volume
  • Humans
  • Macrolides / adverse effects
  • Macrolides / therapeutic use*
  • Quality of Life
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Macrolides