Review of the mechanism underlying mefloquine-induced neurotoxicity

Airton C. Martins, Monica M.B. Paoliello, Anca O. Docea, Abel Santamaria, Alexey A. Tinkov, Anatoly V. Skalny, Michael Aschner

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

Abstract

Mefloquine, a potent blood schizontocide, is effective against drug-resistant Plasmodium falciparum. This property, along with its unique pharmacokinetic profile, makes mefloquine a widely prescribed antimalarial drug. However, several epidemiological studies have raised concerns on the safety of mefloquine as prophylaxis for malaria. Well-documented side-effects of mefloquine include abnormal dreams, insomnia, anxiety, and depressed mood, as well as nausea and dizziness (the last two most frequent effects). The mechanisms that underlie the neurological/psychiatric complications of mefloquine are poorly understood. The aim of this study was to review the literature on the neurotoxic mechanisms of action of mefloquine to better understand its potential toxicity in the central nervous system, highlighting the mechanisms that lead to its psychiatric disorders. Experimental studies on the neurotoxic effects of mefloquine discussed herein include brain transporters of mefloquine, alteration in neurotransmitters, disruption on calcium (Ca2+) homeostasis and neuroinflammation, generation of oxidative stress response in neurons (involving glutathione, increased F2-isoprostanes, accumulation of cytosolic lipid globules), and alteration of voltage-dependent channels, as well as gap junction intercellular communications. Although several hypotheses have been proposed for the mechanisms that mediate mefloquine-induced brain damage, they are not fully understood, necessitating additional studies in the future.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)209-216
Number of pages8
JournalCritical reviews in toxicology
Volume51
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - 2021

Keywords

  • Mefloquine
  • Pyk2
  • calcium homeostasis
  • neurotoxicity
  • oxidative stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology

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