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Lack of Protection Against Ebola Virus from Chloroquine in Mice and Hamsters - Volume 21, Number 6—June 2015 - Emerging Infectious Disease journal - CDC

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Lack of Protection Against Ebola Virus from Chloroquine in Mice and Hamsters - Volume 21, Number 6—June 2015 - Emerging Infectious Disease journal - CDC

Volume 21, Number 6—June 2015


Lack of Protection Against Ebola Virus from Chloroquine in Mice and Hamsters

Darryl Falzarano1, David Safronetz, Joseph Prescott, Andrea Marzi, Friederike Feldmann, and Heinz FeldmannComments to Author 
Author affiliations: National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Hamilton, Montana, USA


The antimalarial drug chloroquine has been suggested as a treatment for Ebola virus infection. Chloroquine inhibited virus replication in vitro, but only at cytotoxic concentrations. In mouse and hamster models, treatment did not improve survival. Chloroquine is not a promising treatment for Ebola. Efforts should be directed toward other drug classes.
Chloroquine was first used as an antimalarial drug until widespread resistance in Plasmodium falciparum strains emerged. However, for >30 years this drug also has been recognized as having broad-spectrum antiviral properties (1), including activity against HIV-1 (2); the human coronaviruses, severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (3) and OC43 (4); dengue virus (5); chikungunya virus (6); and influenza virus (7) in cell culture. Despite these data, chloroquine is not approved for use against any viral infections.
Previous in vitro data state a half maximal effective concentration (EC50) and EC90 of 16 and 25 mol/L for chloroquine against Ebola virus (EBOV), respectively (8). Twice daily dosing at 90 mg/kg intraperitoneally rapidly achieved a steady-state concentration of 2.5 μg/mL in the blood of mice. This dosing regimen resulted in survival of 85% of mice after infection with mouse-adapted (MA) EBOV (8). These data have led to the suggestion that chloroquine and its derivatives be used in persons with EBOV infection because this drug is approved for use in humans, has an extensive safety profile, and is inexpensive (1,9). To determine whether protection would extend to the EBOV hamster model, during 2013–2014 we investigated chloroquine treatment in this model and attempted to repeat previous in vitro findings and findings in the mouse model.

Dr. Falzarano, a research scientist at the University of Saskatchewan, performed this work while a visiting fellow at Rocky Mountain Laboratories. His research interests include determining posttranslational modifications on EBOV glycoproteins and antiviral strategies for severe virus infections.


We thank the animal care technicians for maintaining the animals used in this study.
This study was performed in accordance with the recommendations described in the Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals of the National Institutes of Health, the Office of Animal Welfare, and the US Department of Agriculture. The Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee at Rocky Mountain Laboratories (RML) approved animal work. RML is an American Association for Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care–approved facility. Trained personnel carried out all procedures with the animals under isoflurane anesthesia. The Institutional Biosafety Committee at RML approved all work with infectious EBOV under biosafety level 4 conditions.
This work was supported by the Division of Intramural Research, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health.


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Suggested citation for this article: Falzarano D, Safronetz D, Prescott J, Marzi A, Feldmann F, Feldmann H. Lack of protection against Ebola virus from chloroquine in mice and hamsters. Emerg Infect Dis. 2015 Jun [date cited]. http://dx.doi.org/10.3201/eid2106.150176
DOI: 10.3201/eid2106.150176
1Current affiliation: University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada.

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