Anti-inflammatory activity of macrolides: a new therapeutic potential?

J Antimicrob Chemother. 1998 Mar;41 Suppl B:37-46. doi: 10.1093/jac/41.suppl_2.37.


The important role played by macrolides in the chemotherapy of infectious diseases is well established, but there is still much speculation about their anti-inflammatory potential. A review of in-vitro and ex-vivo studies reported in the literature shows that macrolides have potentially relevant immunomodulatory effects. In-vitro data suggest that erythromycin A derivatives have a direct effect on neutrophil function and the production of cytokines involved in the inflammation cascade. The ex-vivo results indicate that short-term administration of macrolides may enhance the immune response while long-term administration results in immunosuppression. Further research is required to improve our understanding of the therapeutic activity of macrolides.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adjuvants, Immunologic / pharmacology
  • Adjuvants, Immunologic / therapeutic use*
  • Animals
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / pharmacology
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / pharmacology
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Humans
  • Macrolides


  • Adjuvants, Immunologic
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Macrolides