High-dose rifampicin may improve outcomes of tuberculous meningitis (TBM). Little safety or pharmacokinetic (PK) data exist on high-dose rifampicin in human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) coinfection, and no cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) PK data exist from Africa. We hypothesized that high-dose rifampicin would increase serum and CSF concentrations without excess toxicity.

In this phase II open-label trial, Ugandan adults with suspected TBM were randomized to standard-of-care control (PO-10, rifampicin 10 mg/kg/day), intravenous rifampicin (IV-20, 20 mg/kg/day), or high-dose oral rifampicin (PO-35, 35 mg/kg/day). We performed PK sampling on days 2 and 14. The primary outcomes were total exposure (AUC0–24), maximum concentration (Cmax), CSF concentration, and grade 3–5 adverse events. We enrolled 61 adults, 92% were living with HIV, median CD4 count was 50 cells/µL (interquartile range [IQR] 46–56). On day 2, geometric mean plasma AUC0–24hr was 42.9·h mg/L with standard-of-care 10 mg/kg dosing, 249·h mg/L for IV-20 and 327·h mg/L for PO-35 (P < .001). Achieving CSF concentrations above rifampicin minimal inhibitory concentration (MIC) occurred in 11% (2/18) of standard-of-care, 93% (14/15) of IV-20, and 95% (18/19) of PO-35 participants. Higher serum and CSF levels were sustained at day 14. Adverse events did not differ by dose (P = .34).

Current international guidelines result in sub-therapeutic CSF rifampicin concentration for 89% of Ugandan TBM patients. High-dose intravenous and oral rifampicin were safe and respectively resulted in exposures ~6- and ~8-fold higher than the standard of care, and CSF levels above the MIC.

Reference link- https://academic.oup.com/cid/article/73/5/876/6159697