The clinical efficacy and safety of vancomycin loading dose: A systematic review and meta-analysis

Medicine (Baltimore). 2019 Oct;98(43):e17639. doi: 10.1097/MD.0000000000017639.


Background: The clinical significance of using vancomycin loading dose remains controversial. A systematic review and meta-analysis were performed to assess the clinical efficacy and safety of vancomycin loading dose in the treatment of infections.

Methods: The Pubmed, Embase, Web of Science, and Cochrane Library databases were searched from their inception up to 5 May 2019. Randomized controlled trials (RCTs) and other observational studies were included if they provided clinical outcomes or trough concentrations of vancomycin loading dose (20-30 mg/kg) and conventional-dose (10-20 mg/kg) in the treatment of infections. Achievement of therapeutic concentration (serum trough concentrations of vancomycin reached 15-20 mg/L before the second dose), clinical response (clinical improvement or culture-negative), nephrotoxicity (serum creatinine increase ≥0.5 mg/dL or ≥50% increasing from the baseline), other adverse events (including pruritus, flushing, rash, and/or red man syndrome), and mortality were analyzed. Heterogeneity was identified using the Cochrane I statistic, and P-value <.10 or I-values >50% indicated significant heterogeneity. Pooled estimates of the intervention effects were determined by the odds ratios (ORs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) in Review Manager program, version 5.3.5.

Results: Two RCTs and 7 cohort studies including 2816 infected patients were selected for the analysis, in which serum trough concentrations of vancomycin following the use of vancomycin loading dose or other outcomes were available. Loading dose group had a significantly higher compliance rate of serum trough concentration of 15 to 20 mg/L (OR = 3.06; 95% CI = 1.15-8.15; P = .03) and significantly lower incidence of nephrotoxicity (OR = 0.59, 95% CI = 0.40-0.87; P = .008; I = 29%) compared with control group. No significant difference was noted between loading dose group and control group in terms of other adverse events and clinical response (OR = 1.98, 95% CI = 0.80-4.93; P = .14; I = 0%). The use of vancomycin loading doses in patients can indeed increase the achievement of therapeutic concentration.

Conclusion: Vancomycin loading dose increases the achievement of therapeutic concentration without bringing extra risk of nephrotoxicity. However, well-designed large-scale RCTs remain needed to validate the clinical efficacy of vancomycin loading dose and to further evaluate other adverse reactions and mortality.PROSPERO registration number CRD42018093927.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Bacterial Infections / drug therapy*
  • Drug Administration Schedule
  • Humans
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Vancomycin / administration & dosage*


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Vancomycin