A randomised double blind placebo controlled phase 2 trial of adjunctive aspirin for tuberculous meningitis in HIV-uninfected adults
Mai NTH., Dobbs N., Phu NH., Colas RA., Thao LTP., Thuong NTT., Nghia HDT., Hanh NHH., Hang NT., Heemskerk AD., Day JN., Ly L., Thu DDA., Merson L., Kestelyn E., Wolbers M., Geskus R., Summers D., Chau NVV., Dalli J., Thwaites GE.
Adjunctive dexamethasone reduces mortality from tuberculous meningitis (TBM) but not disability, which is associated with brain infarction. We hypothesised that aspirin prevents TBM-related brain infarction through its anti-thrombotic, anti-inflammatory, and pro-resolution properties. We conducted a randomised controlled trial in HIV-uninfected adults with TBM of daily aspirin 81 mg or 1000 mg, or placebo, added to the first 60 days of anti-tuberculosis drugs and dexamethasone (NCT02237365). The primary safety endpoint was gastro-intestinal or cerebral bleeding by 60 days; the primary efficacy endpoint was new brain infarction confirmed by magnetic resonance imaging or death by 60 days. Secondary endpoints included 8-month survival and neuro-disability; the number of grade 3 and 4 and serious adverse events; and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) inflammatory lipid mediator profiles. 41 participants were randomised to placebo, 39 to aspirin 81 mg/day, and 40 to aspirin 1000 mg/day between October 2014 and May 2016. TBM was proven microbiologically in 92/120 (76.7%) and baseline brain imaging revealed ≥1 infarct in 40/114 (35.1%) participants. The primary safety outcome occurred in 5/36 (13.9%) given placebo, and in 8/35 (22.9%) and 8/40 (20.0%) given 81 mg and 1000 mg aspirin, respectively (p=0.59). The primary efficacy outcome occurred in 11/38 (28.9%) given placebo, 8/36 (22.2%) given aspirin 81 mg, and 6/38 (15.8%) given 1000 mg aspirin (p=0.40). Planned subgroup analysis showed a significant interaction between aspirin treatment effect and diagnostic category (Pheterogeneity = 0.01) and suggested a potential reduction in new infarcts and deaths by day 60 in the aspirin treated participants with microbiologically confirmed TBM (11/32 (34.4%) events in placebo vs. 4/27 (14.8%) in aspirin 81 mg vs. 3/28 (10.7%) in aspirin 1000 mg; p=0.06). CSF analysis demonstrated aspirin dose-dependent inhibition of thromboxane A2 and upregulation of pro-resolving CSF protectins. The addition of aspirin to dexamethasone may improve outcomes from TBM and warrants investigation in a large phase 3 trial.