Increased mucosa-associated E. coli are present in Crohn’s disease, but their role in pathogenesis is uncertain.
To assess efficacy and safety of an antibiotic/hydroxychloroquine combination effective against E. coli inside macrophages.
Adults with moderately active disease (CDAI > 220-450 plus C reactive protein ≥ 5 mg/l and/or fecal calprotectin > 250 μg/g) were randomized to receive (open-label) oral budesonide (Entocort CR 9 mg/day 8 weeks, 6 mg/day 2 weeks, 3 mg/day 2 weeks) or oral ciprofloxacin 500 mg bd, doxycycline 100 mg bd, hydroxychloroquine 200 mg tds for 4 weeks, followed by doxycycline 100 mg bd and hydroxychloroquine 200 mg tds for 20 weeks. Primary endpoints were remission (CDAI ≤ 150) at 10 weeks, remission maintained to 24 weeks, and remission maintained to 52 weeks. Patients not responding (CDAI fall by > 70) by 10 weeks were invited to crossover onto the alternative therapy.
Fifty-nine patients were recruited across 8 sites. Including crossover, 39 patients received antibiotics/hydroxychloroquine and 39 received budesonide. At 10 weeks, 24 weeks, and 52 weeks on initial therapy, only 2/27, 2/27, and 1/27 were in remission on antibiotics/hydroxychloroquine compared with 8/32, 1/32, and 1/32 on budesonide (P = 0.092 at 10 weeks). Withdrawals by 10 weeks due to adverse events were seen in 15 receiving antibiotics/hydroxychloroquine and 6 budesonide. Results including crossover were more promising with 9/24 patients receiving antibiotics/hydroxychloroquine per protocol in remission by 24 weeks. No correlation was seen between response to antibiotics/hydroxychloroquine and ASCA/OmpC antibody status or disease location.
Overall results with this antibiotic/hydroxychloroquine combination were unimpressive, but long-term remission is seen in some patients and justifies further study.