Antibiotic Therapy for Pulmonary Exacerbations in Cystic Fibrosis—A Single-Centre Prospective Observational Study
People with cystic fibrosis experience bronchopulmonary exacerbations, leading to lung damage, lung function decline, increased mortality, and a poor health-related quality of life. To date, there are still open questions regarding the rationale for antibiotic use and the optimal duration of antibiotic therapy. This prospective single-center study (DRKS00012924) analyzes exacerbation treatment over 28 days in 96 pediatric and adult people with cystic fibrosis who started oral and/or intravenous antibiotic therapy in an inpatient or outpatient setting after clinician diagnosis of bronchopulmonary exacerbation. Biomarkers of exacerbation were examined in terms of their ability to predict response to treatment and the need for antibiotic therapy. The mean duration of antibiotic therapy was 14 days. Inpatient treatment was associated with a poorer health status, but no significant difference was found in the modified Fuchs exacerbation score between inpatients and outpatients. A significant increase of in-hospital FEV1, home spirometry FEV1, and body-mass index and a significant decrease of the modified Fuchs symptom score, C-reactive protein, and 8 out of the 12 domain scores of the revised cystic fibrosis questionnaire were demonstrated after 28 days. However, a trend towards a FEV1 decline in the inpatient group on day 28 could be demonstrated, while FEV1 was maintained in the outpatient group. Correlation analyses of changes between baseline and day 28 show a strong positive correlation between home spirometry and in-hospital FEV1, strong negative correlations between FEV1 and the modified Fuchs exacerbation score and between FEV1 and C-reactive protein, and a moderately negative correlation between FEV1 and the three domains of the revised cystic fibrosis questionnaire. Responders and non-responders to antibiotic therapy were defined in terms of FEV1 improvement after therapy. A higher baseline C-reactive protein, a greater decrease in C-reactive protein, a higher baseline modified Fuchs exacerbation score, and a greater decrease in the score after 28 days could be found in the responder group, while other baseline and follow-up parameters like FEV1 showed no significant differences. Our data show that the modified Fuchs exacerbation score is applicable in a clinical setting and can detect acute exacerbations regardless of health status. Home spirometry is a useful tool for outpatient exacerbation management. A change in C-reactive protein and a modified Fuchs score change are suitable follow-up markers of exacerbation due to their strong correlation with FEV1. Further studies are needed to assess which patients would benefit from a longer duration of antibiotic therapy. C-reactive protein at exacerbation onset and C-reactive protein decline during and after therapy better predict antibiotic therapy success than FEV1 at therapy onset, while the modified Fuchs score indicates exacerbation regardless of the need for antibiotic therapy, suggesting that antibiotic therapy is only part of exacerbation management.