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      Safety of long-term use of linezolid: results of an open-label study

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          The objective of this study was to assess the long-term safety of linezolid in patients with chronic infections requiring treatment for ≥6 weeks. Enhanced monitoring for optic neuropathy was included to characterize the early development of this side effect and to identify ophthalmologic tests that might be valuable in early detection of this event.


          This was a multicenter, open-label, pilot study of patients aged ≥18 years on long-term linezolid therapy. Matched control patients were included for baseline assessment comparison. Patients were assessed at study entry, monthly while on treatment, at the end of treatment, and 30 days following the last dose. Aggregate ocular safety data were reviewed. Response to treatment was reported.


          The study was terminated owing to slow enrollment. Twenty-four patients received linezolid; nine patients were included as matched controls. Linezolid was prescribed for a median of 80.5 days (range, 50–254 days). In patients with a reported clinical outcome, the majority were considered improved or cured. Common treatment-related adverse events (AEs) included anemia, peripheral neuropathy, polyneuropathy, vomiting, and asthenia, and were consistent with the known safety profile. Most AEs resolved or stabilized with discontinuation of treatment. Results of ophthalmologic tests in the one case adjudicated as probable linezolid-associated optic neuropathy revealed abnormal color vision, characteristic changes in the optic disk, and central scotomas in each eye.


          In our small population, linezolid was generally well tolerated and AEs were consistent with the known safety profile. Extensive ophthalmologic testing of all 24 linezolid-treated patients identified one case adjudicated as probable, linezolid-associated optic neuropathy.

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          Most cited references 15

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          Linezolid-induced inhibition of mitochondrial protein synthesis.

          Linezolid is an oxazolidinone antibiotic that is increasingly used to treat drug-resistant, gram-positive pathogens. The mechanism of action is inhibition of bacterial protein synthesis. Optic and/or peripheral neuropathy and lactic acidosis are reported side effects, but the underlying pathophysiological mechanism has not been unravelled. We studied mitochondrial ultrastructure, mitochondrial respiratory chain enzyme activity, and mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) in muscle, liver, and kidney samples obtained from a patient who developed optic neuropathy, encephalopathy, skeletal myopathy, lactic acidosis, and renal failure after prolonged use of linezolid. In addition, we evaluated mtDNA, respiratory chain enzyme activity, and protein amount in muscle and liver samples obtained from experimental animals that received linezolid or placebo. In the patient, mitochondrial respiratory chain enzyme activity was decreased in affected tissues, without ultrastructural mitochondrial abnormalities and without mutations or depletion of mtDNA. In the experimental animals, linezolid induced a dose- and time-dependent decrease of the activity of respiratory chain complexes containing mtDNA-encoded subunits and a decreased amount of protein of these complexes, whereas the amount of mtDNA was normal. These results provide direct evidence that linezolid inhibits mitochondrial protein synthesis with potentially severe clinical consequences. Prolonged courses of linezolid should be avoided if alternative treatment options are available.
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            Optic nerve degeneration and mitochondrial dysfunction: genetic and acquired optic neuropathies.

            Selective degeneration of the smallest fibers (papillo-macular bundle) of the human optic nerve occurs in a large number of optic neuropathies characterized primarily by loss of central vision. The pathophysiology that underlies this peculiar pattern of cell involvement probably reflects different forms of genetic and acquired mitochondrial dysfunction. Maternally inherited Leber's hereditary optic neuropathy (LHON), dominant optic atrophy (Kjer disease), the optic atrophy of Leigh's syndrome, Friedreich ataxia and a variety of other conditions are examples of inherited mitochondrial disorders with different etiologies. Tobacco-alcohol amblyopia (TAA), the Cuban epidemic of optic neuropathy (CEON) and other dietary (Vitamins B, folate deficiencies) optic neuropathies, as well as toxic optic neuropathies such as due to chloramphenicol, ethambutol, or more rarely to carbon monoxide, methanol and cyanide are probably all related forms of acquired mitochondrial dysfunction. Biochemical and cellular studies in LHON point to a partial defect of respiratory chain function that may generate either an ATP synthesis defect and/or a chronic increase of oxidative stress. Histopathological studies in LHON cases and a rat model mimicking CEON revealed a selective loss of retinal ganglion cells (RGCs) and the corresponding axons, particularly in the temporal-central part of the optic nerve. Anatomical peculiarities of optic nerve axons, such as the asymmetric pattern of myelination, may have functional implications on energy dependence and distribution of mitochondrial populations in the different sections of the nerve. Histological evidence suggests impaired axonal transport of mitochondria in LHON and in the CEON-like rat model, indicating a possible common pathophysiology for this category of optic neuropathies. Histological evidence of myelin pathology in LHON also suggests a role for oxidative stress, possibly affecting the oligodendrocytes of the optic nerves.
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              Linezolid-associated peripheral and optic neuropathy, lactic acidosis, and serotonin syndrome.

              Linezolid is an oxazolidinone antibacterial agent indicated for serious gram-positive infections. Only minor adverse effects were seen in phase III trials. However, more serious adverse effects were reported after commercial release, including cases of lactic acidosis, peripheral and optic neuropathy, and serotonin syndrome. Peripheral and optic neuropathy was usually seen after several months of linezolid therapy (median 5 mo), lactic acidosis after several weeks (median 6 wks), and serotonin syndrome after several days (median 4 days). Death occurred in two of seven reported cases of lactic acidosis, and three of 15 reported cases of serotonin syndrome. Improvement or complete recovery occurred in all cases of optic neuropathy, whereas complete recovery failed to occur in any patient with peripheral neuropathy. Linezolid should be discontinued immediately in patients experiencing these adverse effects. Patients receiving linezolid for more than 28 days should be monitored for signs of peripheral and optic neuropathy.

                Author and article information

                Ther Clin Risk Manag
                Ther Clin Risk Manag
                Therapeutics and Clinical Risk Management
                Therapeutics and Clinical Risk Management
                Dove Medical Press
                01 September 2016
                : 12
                : 1347-1354
                [1 ]Section of Infectious Diseases, Medical College of Georgia, Georgia Regents University, Augusta, GA, USA
                [2 ]UCLA Department of Ophthalmology, Jules Stein Eye Institute, Los Angeles, CA, USA
                [3 ]Clinical Research, Global Innovative Pharmaceutical, Pfizer Inc., New York, NY, USA
                [4 ]Infectious Diseases Division, Santa Maria della Misericordia University Hospital, Udine, Italy
                Author notes
                Correspondence: Pinaki Biswas, Clinical Research, Global Innovative Pharmaceutical, Pfizer Inc., 235 East 42nd Street, New York, NY 10017, USA, Tel +1 212 733 8158, Fax +1 646 441 4796, Email pinaki.biswas@ 123456pfizer.com
                © 2016 Vazquez et al. This work is published and licensed by Dove Medical Press Limited

                The full terms of this license are available at https://www.dovepress.com/terms.php and incorporate the Creative Commons Attribution – Non Commercial (unported, v3.0) License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/). By accessing the work you hereby accept the Terms. Non-commercial uses of the work are permitted without any further permission from Dove Medical Press Limited, provided the work is properly attributed.

                Clinical Trial Report


                peripheral nervous system diseases, safety, optic nerve diseases, linezolid, oxazolidinones


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