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Mediators of Inflammation
Volume 2012 (2012), Article ID 636157, 7 pages
Review Article

Macrolide Therapy in Chronic Inflammatory Diseases

Department of Early Diagnosis of Arthritis, Institute of Rheumatology, Spartanska 1, 02-627 Warsaw, Poland

Received 20 January 2012; Revised 13 July 2012; Accepted 16 July 2012

Academic Editor: Kazuhito Asano

Copyright © 2012 Brygida Kwiatkowska and Maria Maślińska. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Macrolides are a group of antibiotics with a distinctive macrocyclic lactone ring combined with sugars (cladinose, desosamine). The action of macrolides is to block protein synthesis by binding to the subunit of 50S ribosome of bacteria. Prototype macrolide was erythromycin, which came into clinical practice in the 50s of the 20th century. Its antimicrobial spectrum covers the scope of the penicillins but is extended to the impact of atypical bacteria. In the 90s more drugs of this group were synthesized—they have less severe side effects than erythromycin, extended spectrum of Gram-negative bacteria. Macrolides are effective in treating mycobacterial infections especially in patients infected with HIV. It is now known that in addition to antibacterial abilities, macrolides have immunomodulatory effects—they inhibit the production of proinflammatory cytokines (TNF, IL1, 6, and 8) affect transcription factors (NF-κB) as well as costimulaton (CD 80) and adhesion molecules (ICAM). This review article focused not only on the their antimicrobial abilities but also on efficacy in the treatment of several inflammatory disorders independent of the infectious agent. Their wider use as immunomodulators requires further study, which can lead to an extension of indications for their administration.