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Smooth or Risky Revisit of an Old Malaria Drug for COVID-19?

Author

Neuroimmune Pharmacol. 2020 May 15;1-7. doi: 10.1007/s11481-020-09923-w.Online ahead of print.

Priyanka Pahan 1, Kalipada Pahan 2 3

Author Information

1 Department of Neurological Sciences, Rush University Medical Center, 1735 West Harrison St Suite Cohn 310, 60612, Chicago, IL, USA.

2 Department of Neurological Sciences, Rush University Medical Center, 1735 West Harrison St Suite Cohn 310, 60612, Chicago, IL, USA. Kalipada_Pahan@rush.edu.

3 Division of Research and Development, Jesse Brown Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Chicago, USA. Kalipada_Pahan@rush.edu.

Abstract

Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) is an old medication for malaria. In addition to handling this parasitic disease, HCQ is also used to treat a number of autoimmune disorders including rheumatoid arthritis and systemic lupus erythematosus when other medications are not effective. Recently a new viral infection (COVID-19) is rocking the entire world so much that it has already taken more than 200,000 lives throughout the world within the last two months and the World Health Organization was forced to declare it as a pandemic on March 11, 2020. Interestingly, some reports indicate that this wonder drug may be also beneficial for COVID-19 and accordingly, many clinical trials have begun. Here, we discuss different modes of action (anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, inhibition of endosomal acidification, suppression of angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 or ACE2 glycosylation, etc.) of HCQ that might be responsible for its possible anti-COVID-19 effect. On the other hand, this review also makes an honest attempt to delineate mechanisms (increase in vasoconstriction, inhibition of autophagy, depletion of T cells, etc.) indicating how it may aggravate certain conditions and why caution should be taken before granting widespread repurposing of HCQ for COVID-19.