Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, University of Connecticut Health Center, Farmington, CT 06030-1225, USA. firstname.lastname@example.org
Evaluation of: Luna CM, Bruno DA, García-Morato J et al. Effect of linezolid compared with glycopeptides in methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus severe pneumonia in piglets. Chest 135(6), 1564-1571 (2009). Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) has emerged as a major pathogen in nosocomial infections and accounts for a large proportion of nosocomial pneumonia. However, there are limited antibiotics available for the treatment of this serious and potentially lethal infection. Until recently, the only effective antibiotic was vancomycin, but the oxazolidinones, such as linezolid, have been shown to be a valuable addition to the arsenal of antimicrobial agents that can be used for MRSA pneumonia.
Clinical trials have been conducted to compare vancomycin and linezolid head-to-head in pneumonia and, in post hoc subgroup analyses, showed that linezolid use was associated with improved survival. The ensuing debate over these results was dominated by two opinions; there were those who speculated on the mechanism by which linezolid achieved this benefit, namely attributing it to pharmacodynamics and pharmacokinetics, and others who criticized the methodology of the studies and questioned the validity of the results altogether.
This study by Luna and colleagues was designed with several goals in mind. The first was to attempt to generate an animal model of MRSA pneumonia in piglets by duplicating techniques used in animal models of Gram-negative pneumonia. Then they studied the effect of three antibiotics (vancomycin, linezolid and teicoplanin) on outcomes in the same model, while simultaneously measuring antibiotic levels in the serum, bronchoalveolar lavage fluid and lung tissue, in an attempt to attribute differences in survival to pharmacological properties of the drugs used.
Their results showed a survival benefit only for linezolid, despite the fact that all three antibiotics had levels above MIC in all the compartments sampled, leading them to speculate that linezolid may have improved outcomes by mechanisms not directly related to its antimicrobial actions.