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<jats:p>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.</jats:p>

Original publication

DOI

10.7554/elife.33478

Type

Journal article

Journal

eLife

Publisher

eLife Sciences Publications, Ltd

Volume

7