Shorter treatment for non-severe tuberculosis in African and Indian children

Post Date: 
New England Medical Journal

Two thirds of children with tuberculosis have nonsevere disease, which may be treatable with a shorter regimen than the current 6-month regimen.


We conducted an open-label, treatment-shortening, noninferiority trial involving children with nonsevere, symptomatic, presumably drug-susceptible, smear-negative tuberculosis in Uganda, Zambia, South Africa, and India. Children younger than 16 years of age were randomly assigned to 4 months (16 weeks) or 6 months (24 weeks) of standard first-line antituberculosis treatment with pediatric fixed-dose combinations as recommended by the World Health Organization. The primary efficacy outcome was unfavorable status (composite of treatment failure [extension, change, or restart of treatment or tuberculosis recurrence], loss to follow-up during treatment, or death) by 72 weeks, with the exclusion of participants who did not complete 4 months of treatment (modified intention-to-treat population). A noninferiority margin of 6 percentage points was used. The primary safety outcome was an adverse event of grade 3 or higher during treatment and up to 30 days after treatment.

From July 2016 through July 2018, a total of 1204 children underwent randomization (602 in each group). The median age of the participants was 3.5 years (range, 2 months to 15 years), 52% were male, 11% had human immunodeficiency virus infection, and 14% had bacteriologically confirmed tuberculosis. Retention by 72 weeks was 95%, and adherence to the assigned treatment was 94%. A total of 16 participants (3%) in the 4-month group had a primary-outcome event, as compared with 18 (3%) in the 6-month group (adjusted difference, −0.4 percentage points; 95% confidence interval, −2.2 to 1.5). The noninferiority of 4 months of treatment was consistent across the intention-to-treat, per-protocol, and key secondary analyses, including when the analysis was restricted to the 958 participants (80%) independently adjudicated to have tuberculosis at baseline. A total of 95 participants (8%) had an adverse event of grade 3 or higher, including 15 adverse drug reactions (11 hepatic events, all but 2 of which occurred within the first 8 weeks, when the treatments were the same in the two groups).

Four months of antituberculosis treatment was noninferior to 6 months of treatment in children with drug-susceptible, nonsevere, smear-negative tuberculosis. (Funded by the U.K. Medical Research Council and others; SHINE ISRCTN number, ISRCTN63579542. opens in new tab.)

Turkova A, Wills GH, Wobudeya E, Chabala C, Palmer M, Kinikar A, Hissar S, Choo L, Musoke P, Mulenga V, Mave V, Joseph B, LeBeau K, Thomason MJ, Mboizi RB, Kapasa M, van der Zalm MM, Raichur P, Bhavani PK, McIlleron H, Demers AM, Aarnoutse R, Love-Koh J, Seddon JA, Welch SB, Graham SM, Hesseling AC, Gibb DM, Crook AM; SHINE Trial Team. Shorter Treatment for Nonsevere Tuberculosis in African and Indian Children. N Engl J Med. 2022 Mar 10;386(10):911-922. doi: 10.1056/NEJMoa2104535. PMID: 35263517; PMCID: PMC7612496.