Fernández-Robredo P, Recalde S, Moreno-Orduña M, García-García L, Zarranz-Ventura J, García-Layana A. Azithromycin reduces inflammation in a rat model of acute conjunctivitis. Mol Vis. 2013;19:153-165
Macrolide antibiotics are known to have various anti-inflammatory effects in addition to their antimicrobial activity, but the mechanisms are still unclear. The effect of azithromycin on inflammatory molecules in the lipopolysaccharide-induced rat conjunctivitis model was investigated.
Twenty-four Wistar rats were divided into two groups receiving topical ocular azithromycin (15 mg/g) or vehicle. In total, six doses (25 µl) were administered as one dose twice a day for three days before subconjunctival lipopolysaccharide injection (3 mg/ml). Before the rats were euthanized, mucus secretion, conjunctival and palpebral edema and redness were evaluated. Real-time polymerase chain reaction was used to determine gene expression for interleukin-6, cyclooxygenase-2, tumor necrosis factor-α, matrix metalloproteinase (MMP)-2, and MMP-9. Interleukin-6 was determined with enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, nuclear factor-kappa B with western blot, and MMP-2 activity with gelatin zymogram. Four eyes per group were processed for histology and subsequent periodic acid-Schiff staining and CD68 for immunofluorescence. The Student t test or the Wilcoxon test for independent samples was applied (SPSS v.15.0).
Azithromycin-treated animals showed a significant reduction in all clinical signs (p<0.05) compared to controls. Interleukin-6 (p<0.05), nuclear factor-kappa B protein expression (p<0.01), and MMP-2 activity (p<0.05) in conjunctival homogenates were significantly reduced compared with the control animals. MMP-2 gene expression showed a tendency to decrease in the azithromycin group (p=0.063). Mucus secretion by goblet cells and the macrophage count in conjunctival tissue were also decreased in the azithromycin group (p<0.05).
These results suggest that azithromycin administration ameliorates induced inflammation effects in a rat model of acute conjunctivitis.