Gaseous nitric oxide to treat antibiotic resistant bacterial and fungal lung infections in patients with cystic fibrosis: a phase I clinical study

Infection. 2016 Aug;44(4):513-20. doi: 10.1007/s15010-016-0879-x. Epub 2016 Feb 9.


Background: Individuals with cystic fibrosis (CF) receive antibiotics continuously throughout their entire life which leads to drug resistant microbial lung infections which are difficult to treat. Nitric oxide (NO) gas possesses antimicrobial activity against a wide variety of microorganisms in vitro, in vivo in animal models and a phase I study in healthy adults showed administration of intermittent 160 ppm NO to be safe.

Methods: We assessed feasibility and safety of inhaled NO in eight CF patients who received 160 ppm NO for 30 min, three times daily for 2 periods of 5 days.

Results: The NO treatment was safe and in none of the patients were serious drug-related adverse events observed which caused termination of the study. The intention-to-treat analysis revealed a significant mean reduction of the colony forming units of all bacteria and all fungi, while mean forced expiratory volume 1 s % predicted (FEV1) relative to baseline increased 17.3 ± 8.9 % (P = 0.012).

Conclusions: NO treatment may improve the therapy of chronic microbial lung infections in CF patients, particularly concerning pathogens with intrinsic or acquired resistance to antibiotics.

Keywords: Antimicrobial; Cystic fibrosis; Lung infection; Nitric oxide.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial, Phase I

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anti-Infective Agents / administration & dosage
  • Anti-Infective Agents / adverse effects
  • Anti-Infective Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Cystic Fibrosis / complications*
  • Drug Resistance, Bacterial
  • Drug Resistance, Fungal
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Female
  • Forced Expiratory Volume
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Nitric Oxide / administration & dosage
  • Nitric Oxide / adverse effects
  • Nitric Oxide / therapeutic use*
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / complications*
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / drug therapy*
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / microbiology


  • Anti-Infective Agents
  • Nitric Oxide