The Treatment of Tuberculosis

Clin Pharmacol Ther. 2021 Dec;110(6):1455-1466. doi: 10.1002/cpt.2261. Epub 2021 Jun 5.


Tuberculosis (TB) remains a leading cause of infectious death worldwide, and poverty is a major driver. Clinically, TB presents as "latent" TB and active TB disease, and the treatment for each is different. TB drugs can display "early bactericidal activity (EBA)" and / or "sterilizing activity" (clearing persisters). Isoniazid is excellent at the former, and rifampin is excellent at the latter. Pyrazinamide and ethambutol complete the first-line regimen for drug-susceptible TB, each playing a specific role. Drug-resistant TB is an increasing concern, being met, in part, with repurposed drugs (including moxifloxacin, levofloxacin, linezolid, clofazimine, and beta-lactams) and new drugs (including bedaquiline, pretomanid, and delamanid). One challenge is to select drugs without overlapping adverse drug reaction profiles. QTc interval prolongation is one such concern, but to date, it has been manageable. Drug penetration into organism sanctuaries, such as the central nervous system, bone, and pulmonary TB cavities remain important challenges. The pharmacodynamics of most TB drugs can be described by the area under the curve (AUC) divided by the minimal inhibitory concentration (MIC). The hollow fiber infection model (HFIM) and various animal models (especially mouse and macaque) allow for sophisticated pharmacokinetic/pharmacodynamic experiments. These experiments may hasten the selection of the most potent, shortest possible regimens to treat even extremely drug resistant TB. These findings can be translated to humans by optimizing drug exposure in each patient, using therapeutic drug monitoring and dose individualization.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antitubercular Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Antitubercular Agents / metabolism*
  • Drug Monitoring / methods
  • Drug Therapy, Combination
  • Humans
  • Isoniazid / administration & dosage
  • Isoniazid / metabolism
  • Levofloxacin / administration & dosage
  • Levofloxacin / metabolism
  • Rifampin / administration & dosage
  • Rifampin / metabolism
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Tuberculosis / diagnosis
  • Tuberculosis / drug therapy*
  • Tuberculosis / metabolism*
  • Tuberculosis, Multidrug-Resistant / diagnosis
  • Tuberculosis, Multidrug-Resistant / drug therapy
  • Tuberculosis, Multidrug-Resistant / metabolism


  • Antitubercular Agents
  • Levofloxacin
  • Isoniazid
  • Rifampin