A Randomized Controlled Trial of Increased Dose and Frequency of Albendazole with Standard Dose DEC for Treatment of Wuchereria bancrofti Microfilaremics in Odisha, India

Citation: Kar SK, Dwibedi B, Kerketa AS, Maharana A, Panda SS, et al. (2015) A Randomized Controlled Trial of Increased Dose and Frequency of Albendazole with Standard Dose DEC for Treatment of Wuchereria bancrofti Microfilaremics in Odisha, India. PLoS Negl Trop Dis 9(3): e0003583. doi:10.1371/journal.pntd.0003583
Published: March 17, 2015

Abstract
Wuchereria bancroftiAlthough current programmes to eliminate lymphatic filariasis have made significant progress it may be necessary to use different approaches to achieve the global goal, especially where compliance has been poor and ‘hot spots’ of continued infection exist. In the absence of alternative drugs, the use of higher or more frequent dosing with the existing drugs needs to be explored. We examined the effect of higher and/or more frequent dosing with albendazole with a fixed 300mg dose of diethylcarbamazine in a Wuchereria bancrofti endemic area in Odisha, India. Following screening, 104 consenting adults were randomly assigned to treatment with the standard regimen annually for 24 months (S1), or annually with increased dose (800mg albendazole)(H1) or with increased frequency (6 monthly) with either standard (S2) or increased (H2) dose. Pre-treatment microfilaria counts (GM) ranged from 348 to 459 mf/ml. Subjects were followed using microfilaria counts, OG4C3 antigen levels and ultrasound scanning for adult worm nests. Microfilarial counts tended to decrease more rapidly with higher or more frequent dosing at all time points. At 12 months, Mf clearance was marginally greater with the high dose regimens, while by 24 months, there was a trend to higher Mf clearance in the arm with increased frequency and 800mg of albendazole (76.9%) compared to other arms, (S1:64%, S2:69.2% & H1:73.1%). Although higher and/or more frequent dosing showed a trend towards a greater decline in antigenemia and clearance of “nests”, all regimens demonstrated the potential macrofilaricidal effect of the combination. The higher doses of albendazole did not result in a greater number or more severe side effects. The alternative regimens could be useful in the later stages of existing elimination programmes or achieving elimination more rapidly in areas where programmes have yet to start.

Author Summary: In order to achieve global elimination of lymphatic filariasis, it may be necessary to consider alternative approaches to mass treatment using higher or more frequent dosing with the existing drugs used in the programmes. Outside Africa, the drugs used are albendazole and diethylcarbamazine given annually. The current study is the first to examine the use of higher or more frequent dosing in a bancroftian filariasis endemic area outside Africa. Four groups of infected subjects were followed for two years using standard techniques for monitoring drug efficacy in Odisha, India. We showed that higher doses of albendazole, or 6-monthly treatment, were more effective than the standard regimen in producing clearance of microfilaria and reductions in antigenemia. Additionally we found that these regimens were more effective in killing the adult filarial worms in the lymphatics. Importantly, the higher doses used did not increase the risk of side effects. These alternative approaches could accelerate lymphatic filariasis elimination either at the end of existing programmes or to permit new programmes to achieve their goals faster.

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