Background & Aims: Antibiotic resistance is the main reason for failure of Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) treatment. Currently, guidelines recommend a treatment guided by antimicrobial susceptibility testing after two failures. However, microbial culture is not feasible everywhere, and the limited number of effective antibiotics against the bacterium narrows the options; thus a rescue therapy combining antibiotics with a low resistance may be fitting.

Methods: Patients who have failed a first-line treatment (either prolonged triple or sequential regimens) and, successively, a levofloxacin-based triple therapy were considered for the study. Subjects underwent urea breath test (UBT), stool antigen test (ST) and endoscopy/histology to confirm the diagnosis. Cytopenia and impaired liver and kidney function were exclusion criteria. Fifty-four subjects were randomized 1:1 to two regimens: RMB Rabeprazole/Rifabutin/Minocycline/Bismuth sub-citrate or MTB Rabeprazole/Tinidazole/ Minocycline/Bismuth sub-citrate both for 10 days. The results were checked 6 weeks after the end of therapy with ST/UBT plus endoscopy when indicated.

Results: RMB eradicated the bacterium in 21 patients. Two subjects dropped out. The eradication rate was 77.7% (CI 62.0-93.4%) at intention-to-treat and 84.0% (CI 69.6-98.4%) at per-protocol analysis. MTB was successful in 14 patients (51.9%, CI 33.1-70.7%). No patient withdrew from the treatment for adverse events. Drug-related side effects were reported only in 3 subjects, but in all cases the treatment was carried on.

Conclusions: The association minocycline/rifabutin seems to have a synergic effect and a good therapeutic outcome in patients who have failed at least two previous regimens, although a trial on a large population is needed.


Helicobacter pylori, antibiotic resistance, rescue therapy, rifabutin, minocycline