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J Infect Dis. 2001 Mar 15;183(6):935-42. Epub 2001 Feb 13.

Chloroquine antagonizes the proinflammatory cytokine response to opportunistic fungi by alkalizing the fungal phagolysosome.

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  • 1Department of Microbiology, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.


Recent observations demonstrated that the antimalarial drug chloroquine (CQ) can kill the opportunistic fungus Cryptococcus neoformans. Since CQ blunts lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-induced tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-alpha release, it was hypothesized that this drug would also interfere with the inflammatory response to C. neoformans and Candida albicans, another fungal opportunist. CQ inhibited TNF-alpha release from peripheral blood mononuclear cells from healthy and human immunodeficiency virus-positive donors without affecting NF-kappaB activation. CQ reduced TNF-alpha mRNA levels by a pH-dependent mechanism in a manner similar to 2 unrelated alkalizing drugs (ammonium chloride and bafilomycin), which also inhibited TNF-alpha gene expression. Although CQ inhibited release of interleukin (IL)-1beta and IL-6, it did not affect IL-10 or macrophage inflammatory protein-1alpha production. Thus, CQ interferes with fungus-induced TNF-alpha expression by a mechanism that probably depends on the alkalization of endolysosomes. This contrasts with CQ's reported pH-independent inhibition of LPS-stimulated TNF-alpha release and suggests that the mechanism of CQ's anti-inflammatory effects is stimulus specific.

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