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Excessive lysosomal ion-trapping of hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin

Derendorf, H., Int. J. Antimicrobial Agents, 7 May 2020, doi:10.1016/j.ijantimicag.2020.106007
May 2020  
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Discusses pharmacokinetic properties of HCQ+AZ as a potential underlying mechanism of the observed antiviral effects.
Derendorf et al., 7 May 2020, peer-reviewed, 1 author.
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Excessive lysosomal ion-trapping of hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin
Hartmut Derendorf, Jean-Marc Rolain
International Journal of Antimicrobial Agents, doi:10.1016/j.ijantimicag.2020.106007
A recent report identified significant reductions or disappearance of viral load in COVID-19 patients given a combination of hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin. The present communication discusses some common pharmacokinetic properties of these two drugs that may be linked to a potential underlying mechanism of action for these antiviral effects. The physicochemical properties of both hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin are consistent with particularly high affinity for the intracellular lysosomal space, which has been implicated as a target site for antiviral activity. The properties of both drugs predict dramatic accumulation in lysosomes, with calculated lysosomal drug concentrations that exceed cytosolic and extracellular concentrations by more than 50 0 0 0-fold. These predictions are consistent with previously reported experimentally measured cellular and extracellular concentrations of azithromycin. This is also reflected in the very large volumes of distribution of these drugs, which are among the highest of all drugs currently in use. The combination of hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin produces very high local concentrations in lysosomes. The clinical significance of this observation is unclear; however, the magnitude of this mechanism of drug accumulation via ion-trapping in lysosomes could be an important factor for the pharmacodynamic effects of this drug combination.
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