Itraconazale (Sporanox) has been used in a number of European studies in patients with neutropenia and hematologic malignancies. These studies have shown that itraconazale has a promising effect in both the prevention and treatment of fungal infection when administered intravenously followed by oral doses.
In a multicenter, open-label, single- group study, Caillot and colleagues evaluated the efficacy and safety of itraconazole(Drug information on itraconazole) in 31 immunocompromised adult patients with invasive pulmonary aspergillosis. Of the 31 patients participating in the study, 90% had hematologic malignancy, 7% had graft-vs-host disease, and 3% had AIDS; 61% of the patients were neutropenic.
The study also assessed plasma levels of itraconazole and the active metabolite hydroxy-itraconazole to determine the pharmacokinetics of the intravenous (IV)/oral capsule dosing regimen that was used.
Aspergillosis was diagnosed on the basis of positive tissue biopsy, culture or direct examination of percutaneous lung aspirate, presence of new or progressive infiltrates on x-ray or computed tomography (CT) with positive sputum or bronchoalveolar lavage or positive nasal swab (in neutropenic patients), or when bronchoscopy/lavage and CT scans showed typical halo or air crescent signs.
Dosage and Response
Treatment consisted of itraconazole IV at 200 mg twice daily for 4 days and 200 mg once daily for 12 days, followed by oral itraconazole capsules 200 mg twice daily for 12 weeks. Outcomes were assessed at day 14 and at 14 weeks. All 31 patients received IV itraconazole for a median of 14 days, and 26 received oral itraconazole for a median of 78.5 days.
Response (defined as resolution or major improvement in all signs and symptoms) at day 14 was observed in 38% of patients, with response or stable disease being observed in 81%. By the end of study treatment, response was observed in 48% of patients, with response or stable disease being observed in 68%.
Plasma Drug Concentrations
Figure 1 shows plasma drug concentrations, assessed by high-performance liquid chromatography with ultraviolet detection, during the course of the Caillot study. Therapeutic trough plasma levels (> 250 ng/mL) were obtained in 91% of the patients within 2 days of IV treatment and in all patients within 1 week of IV treatment. Therapeutic levels exceeding the minimum effective concentration were maintained after changing from IV to oral treatment. In total, adverse events were reported in 42% of patients during IV treatment and 35% during oral treatment. Treatment was discontinued due to adverse effects in seven patients; two related to the IV preparation (rigors and rashes) and five related to the oral preparation (gastrointestinal side effects).
DeBeule and colleagues performed a multicenter, open-label, randomized study to assess the pharmacokinetics of an IV/oral solution itraconazole regimen and to compare the effects of itraconazole and amphotericin B(Drug information on amphotericin b) as empiric therapy for fever of unknown origin in neutropenic patients with hematologic malignancies.
The study enrolled a total of 394 adults with hematologic malignancies with neutropenia (absolute neutrophil count < 500,000 × 10³/L) expected to last for 7 days and persistent fever (> 38°C) despite 3 to 7 days of broad-spectrum antimicrobial treatment. A total of 384 patients received at least one dose of study medication and were included for safety analysis. Evaluation of efficacy was based on an intention to treat 360 randomized patients who satisfied the full inclusion/exclusion criteria.
Underlying diagnoses were similar in the two treatment groups, with 56% of patients in each having acute myelogenous leukemia (AML). The treatment groups were well-matched for risk factors, with similar proportions of patients undergoing first treatment or having first or second or subsequent relapse, similar proportions undergoing autologous bone marrow transplantation (BMT) or peripheral blood stem cell transplantation, and similar proportions using corticosteroids, exhibiting fungal colonization of the digestive tract, and exhibiting mucositis. The median duration of neutropenia was approximately 9 days in both groups.
Dosage and Response
Treatments consisted of itraconazole IV 200 mg twice daily for 2 days and 200 mg once daily for 5 to 12 days followed by oral solution 400 mg once daily from day 15 to day 28 or amphotericin B IV at 0.7 to 1.0 mg/kg/d for 28 days.
Patients in the itraconazole group received IV treatment for a median of 8.5 days; 65 patients switched to oral itraconazole for a median of 7 days after a median of 9 days of IV treatment. Patients in the amphotericin B group received IV amphotericin B for a median of 7 days; the mean amphotericin B dose was 0.71 mg/kg/d.
Treatment response was defined as absence of fever for 3 days and a recovery from neutropenia for a minimum of 2 consecutive days. Failure was defined as documented deep fungal infection or highly suggestive CT findings, documented bacterial or viral infection responsible for fever, death due to any cause within 3 days of starting study treatment, persistent fever at the end of neutropenia or at day 28, persistence of signs and symptoms of fungal infection irrespective of presence of fever, fever requiring a change in the antifungal regimen, or discontinuation of study medication due to poor tolerance.
In total, 24 (13%) of the itraconazole patients and 46 (25%) of the amphotericin B patients were considered unevaluable on the basis of receiving treatment for 3 or fewer days. Failure occurred in 72 (39%) and 70 (38%) of the intraconazole and amphotericin B recipients, respectively, and response occurred in 48% and 38%, respectively. It was calculated that itraconazole was at least as effective as amphotericin B treatment (P = .001, Fleiss test).
A further analysis based on the composite end point indicated response in 53% of the itraconazole recipients and in 46% of the amphotericin B recipients (P = .047, Fleiss test).
Severe adverse events occurred in 19% of the itraconazole group and 34% of the amphotericin B group (P = .001); 19% and 38% (P = .001), respectively, withdrew from treatment due to adverse effects. Adverse events considered related to study therapy occurred in 5% of the itraconazole group and in 54% of the amphotericin B group (P < .001). Nephrotoxicity (defined as serum creatinine > 2 times baseline level) occurred in 5% and 24% (P < .001), respectively; mean creatinine clearance in the treatment groups is shown in Figure 2.
Pharmacokinetic evaluation showed that therapeutic plasma itraconazole levels were achieved in 97% of patients within 3 days of starting treatment. As shown in Figure 3, mean trough plasma concentrations increased through day 15 and were somewhat reduced after initiation of oral dosing but remained well over minimum therapeutic levels.