Amphotericin B in resistant kala-azar in Bihar.Natl Med J India. 1993 Mar-Apr; 6(2):57-60.NM
During the recent epidemic of kala-azar in Bihar, we identified a group of patients who were unresponsive to the two commonly used drugs--sodium stibogluconate and pentamidine. We evaluated the use of amphotericin B in these patients because it has been shown to be active in experimental animals against amastigotes and promastigotes, it has been found to be useful in South American patients and is now recommended by the World Health Organization as a second line drug.
We selected 300 patients who were unresponsive to sodium stibogluconate and pentamidine (out of 500 patients with kala-azar confirmed by demonstration of Leishmania donovani bodies in their splenic aspirates). Amphotericin B was given in a dose of 1 mg/kg body weight on alternate days starting with 0.05 mg/kg body weight with daily increments till a 1 mg dose was reached. A total dose of 20 mg/kg was given initially and repeated if the parasites persisted. The investigations done before and after treatment were splenic or bone marrow aspiration, measurement of the spleen and liver size, body weight, total and differential white cell counts, haemoglobin level, total serum protein, blood urea, serum creatinine, serum potassium, blood sugar, serum alanine and aspartate transaminase, electrocardiography and a chest X-ray. The efficacy of treatment was assessed at the end of treatment and after 6 months of follow up.
After treatment with amphotericin B, 298 (99%) of the patients had been cured of their disease as evidenced by the disappearance of fever, reduction of hepatosplenomegaly, clearance of the parasites from the spleen and bone marrow and an absence of relapse on 6 months of follow up. Two hundred and sixty-eight (89%) patients required 1 g of the drug, 24 (8%) required 1.5 g and 6 (2%) required 2 g. All patients had shivering and fever during the infusion. Two had a cardiac arrest from which they could not be revived. Other complications included anorexia, stomatitis, jaundice, hypokalaemia and a rise in blood urea. However, these were only mild and improved after treatment was stopped.
Amphotericin B is an effective drug for patients with kala-azar unresponsive to treatment with sodium stibogluconate and pentamidine, but it should be administered under close medical supervision.