Pilot study to test inhaled nitric oxide in cystic fibrosis patients with refractory Mycobacterium abscessus lung infection

J Cyst Fibros. 2020 Mar;19(2):225-231. doi: 10.1016/j.jcf.2019.05.002. Epub 2019 May 23.


Background: Airways of Cystic Fibrosis (CF) patients are Nitric Oxide (NO) deficient which may contribute to impaired lung function and infection clearance. Mycobacterium abscessus (M. abscessus) infection prevalence is increasing in CF patients and is associated with increased morbidity and mortality. Here, we assess the safety and efficacy of intermittent inhaled NO (iNO) as adjuvant therapy in CF patients with refractory M. abscessus lung infection.

Methods: A prospective, open-label pilot study of iNO (160 ppm) administered five times/day during hospitalization (14 days), and three times/day during ambulatory treatment (7 days) was conducted. The primary outcome was safety measured by NO-related adverse events (AEs). Secondary outcomes were six-minute walk distance (6MWD), forced expiratory volume in 1 s (FEV1), and M. abscessus burden in airways.

Results: Nine subjects were recruited. INO at 160 ppm was well-tolerated and no iNO-related SAEs were observed during the study. Mean FEV1 and 6WMD were increased relative to baseline during NO treatment. M. abscessus culture conversion was not achieved, but 3/9 patients experienced at least one negative culture during the study. Mean time to positivity in M. abscessus culture, and qPCR analysis showed reductions in sputum bacterial load. The study was not powered to achieve statistical significance in FEV1, 6WMD, and bacterial load.

Conclusions: Intermittent iNO at 160 ppm is well tolerated and safe and led to increases in mean 6MWD and FEV1. INO exhibited potential antibacterial activity against M. abscessus. Further evaluation of secondary endpoints in a larger cohort of CF patients is warranted to demonstrate statistical significance.

Keywords: Cystic fibrosis; Inhaled nitric oxide; Mycobacterium Abscessus.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't