Mar 31, 2020

Azithromycin and ciprofloxacin have a chloroquine-like effect on respiratory epithelial cells

Imran S HaqueVijay S Pande


There is interest in the use of chloroquine/hydroxychloroquine (CQ/HCQ) and azithromycin (AZT) in COVID-19 therapy. Employing cystic fibrosis respiratory epithelial cells, here we show that drugs AZT and ciprofloxacin (CPX) act as acidotropic lipophilic weak bases and confer in vitro effects on intracellular organelles similar to the effects of CQ. These seemingly disparate FDA-approved antimicrobials display a common property of modulating pH of endosomes and trans-Golgi network. We believe this may in part help understand the potentially beneficial effects of CQ/HCQ and AZT in COVID-19, and that the present considerations of HCQ and AZT for clinical trials should be extended to CPX.

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