Mycoplasma genitalium is an important cause of non-gonococcal urethritis, cervicitis, and related upper genital tract infections. The efficacy of doxycycline, used extensively to treat non-gonococcal urethritis in the past, is relatively poor for M. genitalium infection; azithromycin has been the preferred treatment for several years. Research on the efficacy of azithromycin has primarily focused on the 1 g single-dose regimen, but some studies have also evaluated higher doses and longer courses, particularly the extended 1.5 g regimen. This extended regimen is thought to be more efficacious than the 1 g single-dose regimen, although the regimens have not been directly compared in clinical trials. Azithromycin treatment failure was first reported in Australia and has subsequently been documented in several continents. Recent reports indicate an upward trend in the prevalence of macrolide-resistant M. genitalium infections (transmitted resistance), and cases of induced resistance following azithromycin therapy have also been documented. Emergence of antimicrobial-resistant M. genitalium, driven by suboptimal macrolide dosage, now threatens the continued provision of effective and convenient treatments. Advances in techniques to detect resistance mutations in DNA extracts have facilitated correlation of clinical outcomes with genotypic resistance. A strong and consistent association exists between presence of 23S rRNA gene mutations and azithromycin treatment failure. Fluoroquinolones such as moxifloxacin, gatifloxacin, and sitafloxacin remain highly active against most macrolide-resistant M. genitalium. However, the first clinical cases of moxifloxacin treatment failure, due to bacteria with coexistent macrolide-associated and fluoroquinolone-associated resistance mutations, were recently published by Australian investigators. Pristinamycin and solithromycin may be of clinical benefit for such multidrug-resistant infections. Further clinical studies are required to determine the optimal therapeutic dosing schedules for both agents to effect clinical cure and minimize the risk of emergent antimicrobial resistance. Continual inappropriate M. genitalium treatments will likely lead to untreatable infections in the future.
Keywords: Mycoplasma genitalium; fluoroquinolone; macrolide; non-gonococcal urethritis; resistance; treatment failure.