Objective: To investigate possible renal toxicity of long-term gentamicin inhalation in patients with cystic fibrosis.
Methods: Urinary N-acetyl-beta-D-glucosaminidase (NAG) activity was measured during routine respiratory clinic visits. Outpatient records were reviewed for data on long-term gentamicin inhalation, and parents and patients were interviewed for compliance. Exclusion criteria were irregular gentamicin inhalation, urinary infection or other febrile illness, intravenous aminoglycoside treatment during the previous three months, and diabetes mellitus. Patients were assigned to three groups: group 1, current gentamicin inhalation; group 2, previous gentamicin inhalation that had been stopped at least three months ago; and group 3, never any gentamicin inhalation.
Results: 52 patients (34 girls, 18 boys), mean (SD) age 11.5 (5.7) years, entered the study. Patients currently on gentamicin inhalation (n = 20) were significantly younger and had higher urinary NAG activity (0.83 (0.57) U/mmol creatinine) than the 23 patients without gentamicin inhalation (0.26 (0.10) (p = 0.0001) and the nine patients with previous gentamicin inhalation (0.32 (0.15) (p = 0.0125). Twelve patients on current gentamicin inhalation had raised NAG values but all those in groups 2 and 3 had NAG values within the normal range. In patients currently on gentamicin inhalation, there was a positive correlation between urinary NAG activity and cumulative dose of nebulised gentamicin (r = 0.60, p = 0.0049).
Conclusions: Long-term gentamicin inhalation in patients with cystic fibrosis poses a risk of renal toxicity. It is not known whether further treatment might result in more severe renal damage.